Updated: Feb 13, 2020
We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know-how. That someone can be referred to as a mentor. The concept of mentorship can mean many things to many people. Mentorship can be a significant part of your overall career success, both early on in your career and even late in your professional life.
For Oprah Winfrey, a mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. A strong and trusted mentor is someone who can provide you with a solid baseline of career support, someone who will keep you grounded, and someone who will help you remain self-aware throughout your entire career journey.
Where to find your mentor:
It is recommended that your mentor be someone within the same profession or one who is closely aligned to what it is you do. It is best you identify with someone who you can relate to in your professional life, someone who has a perspective of the daily trials and tribulations that you encounter and can offer advice or insight that is appropriately aligned to your career, the goals you aim for, the lifestyle you desire or the heights you want to attain.
Your mentor can also come from different stages within their career. While it is highly encouraged to seek out someone who is more senior to you in experience and leadership, don’t hesitate to consider a mentor that could be your peer, one that you could potentially relate to better than someone who may be senior to you. No matter what level of career experience, leadership or management they may have, the most important factor of your mentor is that it is someone who you look up to at any stage of their career or you look up to because of their admirable belief system and lifestyle.
Why do we need a mentor?
You might have a flourishing career, be the best in your class, have a peaceful life or enjoy a lifestyle envied by your friends or peers, so, no doubt you can be bothered by the question, do I need a mentor? Oh yes! You do. In fact, we all do. We all need someone who inspires us to do better.
Having a mentor is treasurable. The benefits that can be gotten from having a mentor figure in both our career and personal life is chiefly underemphasized. Under listed are some of these benefits;
ü You’ll become a better person - Your mentor is the office equivalent of that friend who calls you out if you’re out of line. By telling you your strengths and your weaknesses, he or she will help you gain self-awareness, respect your colleagues more and become a better team player. In short, they'll help you build your character.
ü Gain valuable advice – Mentors can offer valuable insight into what it takes to get ahead. They can be your guide and "sounding board" for ideas, helping you decide on the best course of action in difficult situations. You may learn shortcuts that help you work more effectively and avoid "reinventing the wheel."
ü Develop your knowledge and skills – They can help you identify the skills and expertise you need to succeed. They may teach you what you need to know or advise you on where to go for the information you need.
ü Improve your communication skills – Just like your mentor, you may also learn to communicate more effectively, which can further help you at work.
ü Learn new perspectives – Again, you can learn new ways of thinking from your mentor, just as your mentor can learn from you.
ü Build your network – Your mentor can offer an opportunity to expand your existing network of personal and professional contacts.
ü Advance your career – A mentor helps you stay focused and on track in your career through advice, skills development, networking, and so on.
ü You’ll gain a friend – In as much as a mentor is to be revered, the optimum mentor-mentee relationship is gained on friendly ground. A mentor-mentee relationship without rapport is like having no mentor at all. This is someone you’ll share your work and personal concerns with – so make sure they’re someone you get along with.
ü You can become a mentor, too - Just like Benjamin Disraeli once said, “the greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own". Mentors aren’t born, in fact, we are all potential mentors. It feels good to nurture talent and you can pick up mentoring skills while being mentored, particularly regarding leadership and communication.
Getting the best of mentorship:
In order for you to experience the full benefits of mentorship, one must also be aware of their own role as a mentee. Keep in mind, this is a two-way relationship between yourself and your mentor. There are a number of important aspects of the relationship that you need to manage in order for your relationship to be effective and valuable. As a mentee, you too must give back in some way to your mentor. Become a relationship driver for them by helping them grow their own professional network through you. Be open to hearing their daily challenges and offer advice as to how you think they could manage a situation. Have a strong level of belief and confidence in your mentor. Become an active listener and learner and be open and respectful of their advice, feedback, and those hard conversations you may have every so often.
It is also important to invest your time into your mentor, be present when speaking with them and ensure you have regularly scheduled check-ins with your mentor in order to sustain the relationship. It is important to realize that this relationship is not just benefiting you, but your mentor as well. Treat your relationship in a way that it is not one-sided with all the benefits coming to you. Do your part to inspire and educate your mentor, because one day, you too will find yourself in a situation where you become an impactful mentor to someone as well.
This article was written by Chidinma Onuoha