Mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. In an organizational setting, a mentor influences the personal and professional growth of a mentee
Before becoming a mentor, here are a few things to understand about the role of mentoring. Most of us have had a teacher, supervisor, or coach who has been a mentor to us and made a positive difference in our lives. Those people wore many hats, acting as delegators, role models, cheerleaders, policy enforcers, advocates, and friends. Mentors assume these different roles during the course of a relationship, and share some basic qualities:
- A sincere desire to be involved with a young person
- Respect for young people
- Active listening skills
- Ability to see solutions and opportunities
1. Become a better leader
Learning how to work with people to whom you don’t have a natural connection, demonstrating patience with those in need of guidance and support, helping people figure out the best path forward: all trademarks of a great leader AND skills honed through mentoring. The more you work at leadership on a one-to-one basis, the more you’ll improve in larger group settings.
2. Learn more about your company or profession
What do you actually know about the challenges, purpose and daily workload of other teams? Mentoring is a great way to broaden your view and gain insight into what goes on in other areas. This will equip you to make sounder, more holistic decisions.
3. Achieve personal career gains
Just in case you’re thinking that all this talk of leadership and learning is a soft sell, let’s dish up some hard facts. Between 2010 and 2015 Sun Microsystems studied the career progress of over 1,000 employees. People who had acted as mentors were SIX TIMES more likely to be promoted than those who didn’t, and 20% more likely to get a raise. Still think mentoring is a fluffy, feel good thing to do?
4. Shape the leaders of tomorrow
Most of us long for a legacy, some stake in the future that says, “I was here.” What better legacy than to be a part of shaping tomorrow’s leaders?
5. Gain new perspectives and fresh ideas
Mentoring is a unique opportunity to step outside your normal circle of friends and social media’s echo chamber to gain an intimate understanding of how the world looks through someone else’s eyes. New perspectives lead to fresh ideas, and who knows where fresh ideas could lead you?
6. Put your finger on the pulse of a younger generation
Usually (although not always) mentors end up working with younger mentees, sometimes much younger. Different generations think and act differently. If you are to be an effective leader, you need to have an understanding of how younger generations see things and where they can make a difference to the organisation. The intimacy of a mentoring relationship offers a unique insight into these generational differences.
7. Change someone’s world
Do you remember a teacher, a coach or a former boss who said or did something that changed the trajectory of your life? This is your chance to do that for someone else. Not every mentoring partnership is life changing but we see enough of it to know that every mentor has the potential to instigate surprising change.
8. Exercise emotional intelligence
Working one-on-one with a mentee requires you to sharpen your emotional radar. You will be called upon to gauge the emotional state of the other person and respond with empathy. Not only is emotional intelligence a key differentiator for career advancement, it can also improve your relationships outside the office.
9. Strengthen the lessons you’ve already learned
There is no better way to embed knowledge than through teaching. You’ve learned the hard way how to hire the right person, raise prices or negotiate a tough contract. By passing this knowledge on to a novice, you clarify and embed those lessons within yourself.
10. Improve productivity
Sharing your insights, learning and networks with younger colleagues helps to grease the organisational wheel. Stepping up the pace and increasing productivity helps everyone within the organisation – including you.
11. Feel good about yourself
Tell yourself all you want that you’re doing it for your resume, but we guarantee you that once you become a mentor the “feel good” factor will take hold. There is little more rewarding than knowing you are making a difference to someone else’s life.