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The Power of Mentoring Relationships

The Power of Mentoring Relationships

Have you ever had a mentor, or been a mentor to someone else? Did you know that having a mentor can help you to grow, not only in your career, but in creating more intentional relationships to help you grow personally? I have been mentored by many people, and I find that it is overall a valuable and rewarding experience.

One of the most common questions that people have asked me about mentoring is, "What can a mentor help me with?" People also want to know what mentoring really is, who their mentor should be, and how they can find one.

In answering these questions, hopefully I will inspire you to consider finding a mentor or becoming a mentor for someone else.

What can a mentor help you with?

Mentors can offer you guidance and advice, encouragement, exposure and visibility, networking, and coaching. They can help you with a specific issue or ongoing challenges that you may be facing in your current role.

In my first formal mentoring relationship, my mentor was able to help me navigate through my current role and position myself for a role within my organization that I aspired to grow into in the long-term. I am happy to say that through that mentorship, I applied for that new role, and it is what I do today.

So, let's talk about what mentoring is.

What is mentoring?

According to the Academy of Management, mentoring is "when an older, more experienced member of an organization takes a junior colleague 'under his or her wing,' aiding in the organizational socialization of the less experienced person and passing along knowledge gained through years of living within the organization."

Don't be afraid to get involved in the process. In my first formal mentoring relationship, I scheduled our meetings and created the agenda topics, so I was able to ensure that I was getting out of the relationship what I put into it.

[Related: Why Every Female Leader Should Be a Mentor]

Who should my mentor be?

Michelle R. Ferguson, SVP of Global Business Services for McGraw Hill Financial, was co-founder of her company's mentoring program. In a Jam Session for Ellevate Network, she shared how to find, build, and maintain a successful mentor partnership. She said that the best mentor relationships are filled with two-way learning and reciprocation.

A mentor can help you with many things, but it's important to choose the right mentor. According to Ferguson, "A mentee is in the driver’s seat and needs to take the lead. That includes scheduling the meetings, coming up with an agenda, and being specific about the goals. A mentorship is a two-way exchange. It’s a way to trade best practice ideas and experiences."

Although mentoring can be a powerful relationship, it can also be a not-so-rewarding experience if you choose the wrong mentor, such as your manager. It's difficult to be totally open and honest with your manager about certain challenges you may be facing with work, especially when part of your challenge may be their management style.

[Related: How Childlike Transparency Should Guide Your Leadership Style]

How can I find a mentor?

You can find a mentor in many ways. If you're not part of a formal program, you can individually seek out a mentor. As Kathy Caprino writes in Forbes:

Find great mentors through the inspiring people you're already interacting and working with now. They need to be people to whom you have already demonstrated your potential – who know how you think, act, communicate, and contribute. And they have to like, trust, and believe in you already (why else would they help you?). They also need to believe with absolute certainty that you’ll put to great use all their input and feedback.

Find your mentors among the people you know who are 10 steps ahead of you in your field, role, or industry, doing what you want to, in the way you want to. Connect with new people who you can help, and who will find it a mutually-rewarding and beneficial experience to support you. If you don’t know of any inspiring people that fit this bill, you need to go out and find them.

Mentoring relationships can help grow your network and improve your professional skills. Finding a mentor can be simple: Take a look at some of the current relationships in your life, noting people who you admire and who you can learn from. Asking someone to mentor you is actually a wonderful compliment, and one of the greatest ways to receive ongoing, honest feedback from someone that you respect and look up to.

Now, I'd love to hear from you. How do you think mentoring can help you, and why is this important for you right now? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

[Related: Lessons I Learned From Being a Woman in Tech in the Heart of Silicon Valley]


Brittanni Below, MBA is a coach, speaker, and trainer based in Houston, TX, that provides services to help fierce and self-driven women to live more balanced, healthy, and fulfilling lives. By fully understanding your unique talents and gifts and what is distracting you from being successful, Brittanni helps you transform fear, lack of confidence, and life challenges into lessons that push you to crush the goals that you've set for yourself. If you're interested in personal coaching, book a session with Brittanni here.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.