Beliefs about mentorship are drastically shifting. Mentorship is no longer focused on guiding those “below us” on the totem pole. It is now focused on using our own expertise to teach those around us, helping them to flourish and prosper. With this idea of mentorship in mind, it is safe to say, regardless of our ages, titles or years of work experience, we each have something we can learn from one another.
Mentorship is about building a mutually-beneficial relationship between two individuals through which both parties are collaboratively learning and growing. That being said, you are never too young or too old to have a mentor, or maybe even a “board” of mentors. So, if you haven’t already, start now!
Finding the Perfect Mentors
- Understand your needs as a mentee.
There are many different kinds of mentors; there are coaches, connectors, cheerleaders and challengers, just to name a few. When searching for a mentor, it is important for you to understand your needs and goals, and seek a mentor that will help you fulfill them.
- Pursue someone who is your opposite.
Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, those that differ from you can often offer you the most diverse knowledge and most insightful advice. For instance, a big trend in today’s business world is reverse mentoring, when Baby Boomers their opposites, Millennials, as mentors.
- Don’t be so focused on a person’s title.
Alexa von Tobel, the CEO and founder of LearnVest claims, “It’s about the person, not their position.” When searching for a mentor, take into consideration a person’s experiences and expertise, not just their title.
Being an Awesome Mentor
- Set relationship expectations.
Sit down with your mentee at the beginning of your relationship and discuss expectations. This will ensure that you are both on the same page. Express to your mentee that you will do all you can to help them achieve their goals, but be sure to NEVER make a promise that you can’t keep.
- Be invested in your mentee.
Show interest in their lives, ask questions, celebrate their achievements and, most importantly, LISTEN! These gestures and actions, no matter how small, will strengthen the bond you have with your mentee and enhance your relationship ten-fold.
- At all times, be honest.
Just as in any relationship, honesty is key! No matter what the issue or question, provide your mentee with honest, not sugar-coated, advice. Also, do not be afraid to admit your mistakes and failures, as you have learned from them, and they can help your mentee learn too.