Whether an Executive, a current or aspiring leader, having the right “tribe” around you for support is essential, whether friends, family and/or peers.
A mentor is another useful professional tool. They can act as a sounding board, hold you accountable and be the voice of reason. Importantly, a good mentor can also help you navigate through conflict, develop a framework for career progression and help you assess and adapt your own style to optimise career success.
Finding the right mentor is about more than just finding someone you admire and asking them for advice. It’s a great idea to meet with your mentor in person for a casual coffee before you decide to go ahead.
What to look for?......
Someone who aligns with your values
Whilst diversity of thought and ideas encourages our creativity, essentially, we relate better to those who share our purpose. Feeling comfortable discussing personal and professional issues with your mentor is essential for you to be able to learn and self-reflect effectively.
Research has shown that mentor-mentee relationships are more successful when values are shared.
Whilst the ability to sit and listen is incredibly important, mentors who then provide positive direction assist you to move more actively towards solutions.
Good mentors will provide useful analysis of your situation and then an action plan to progress. When assessing if a mentor is right for you, perhaps ask them what sort of tools and structures they utilise in their work.
Is a good communicator
Warmth and the ability to actively listen are arguably the most useful attributes a mentor can provide. When you first meet your intended mentor, do they seek to establish your needs? Do they clarify back to you once you have explained your current situation. Are they friendly and supportive?
Reflect on these questions before proceeding – Do you feel comfortable with this person?
Who themselves has achieved both failure and success
We learn from our successes and failures – This shapes life. Your mentor should be able to provide insight from their own career learnings in order to enhance your own.
Who is prepared to develop an understanding of your work industry and situation
I have had a number of formal and informal mentors in my own professional journey. The best were always those who, if not from my industry, were prepared gain understanding of what I did for work. This enabled them to then understand particular nuances that may have affected my professional goals and relationships.
Has life experience aswell as work experience
Our purpose and values shape us. In order to become the best we can be, we need to draw on both life and work experiences. A mentor who has experienced life, and who can relate to your own personal circumstances is then better able to provide solutions to guide you on your own journey forward. Parenthood, relocation and personal loss are examples of some life experiences that may shape our attitudes and capabilities professionally.
Is available to meet regularly
To gain the most from your mentor, you should see them fortnightly or weekly. If they are unable to commit to a structured arrangement of catching up, you are less likely to gather momentum in achieving progress in an established plan.
Is flexible and adaptable
Your ability to be proactive in shaping your own intended objectives is important when taking on a mentor. Whilst you have a mentor to gain advice and guidance, being able to pivot the course you are on is part of the game of life. Your mentor should be flexible enough to adapt if your own objectives change, or importantly if you wish to alter the type of tools they utilise to help you. Don’t be scared to ask them about a situation where they may have had to be a little flexible and adaptable with the nature of the information they provided in the past.
A great mentor is gold for your present and future career progression. Trust your gut when meeting a potential mentor for the first time – but always back this up with some informed questions and observation.
Whether an executive, a current leader or an aspiring leader, the on-going career journey requires regular self-reflection and learning. An experienced mentor is an important element in the professional development plan.
Following extensive leadership experience across a variety of industries in both large and small business, I excel at tailoring hands-on mentoring to the individual.
My aim is for each person to enhance their ability to value and build their own contribution, to understand their strengths and weaknesses and importantly to adapt and grow in the new and ever changing world of work.
Contact me at: lexie@lexiewilkinsconsulting or 0402648347 to discuss your own professional mentoring and coaching needs.
“ … I was fortunate enough to have Lexie as a boss & mentor. This was my first Recruiting role after graduating from my post-grad in HR and Lexie took the time to assist with hands on training as well as helping me define my career goals. …... I can't say enough positive things about Lexie, both professionally and personally…” Wendy Young, Clarity LLC