“A self-made leader doesn’t make much.”
Leadership guru John Maxwell first wrote that statement almost ten years ago and claims it still holds true today. He, himself, is obviously quite financially successful but then again, according to Maxwell, he wasn’t “self-made”, he had mentors to guide him.
What Is A Mentor?
A mentor is someone who teaches and inspires you through their understanding and insight. They’re usually someone a little farther ahead of you on your chosen path, with more knowledge, experience, and, most importantly, the generosity of heart to want to give back…. and, in doing so, help you advance. Mentors need to put the relationship first. Research has shown that without the trust & chemistry of the relationship there is no difference in the development of the mentee then if they never had a mentor in the first place. The mentor needs to focus on the character, and go beyond competency. This is not a training program but a development program, shaping peoples’ character and values matter more in the long run than current job tasks. A good mentor encourages the exploration of ideas, unconventional or not. Consider the pros of an idea before critiquing it. Leadership is a duty and service to others, to inspire commitment you must show commitment. The good of the mentee must come before the good of the company. If the mentee needs to move on to grow, then you need to let them go.
Are You Ready To Be Mentored?
Mentorship is a two-way street. The mentor gives but the mentee must be ready to learn. Have you thought about what you want out of your career and the characteristics and skills that you will need to reach your goals? If not, start a list. Once you know what you want to learn from a mentor, it is time to start working hard. To attract a mentor, you need to develop a reputation as someone who is teachable, motivated, talented, and reliable. Once you find your mentor be ready to add value to their life and career, be proactive in your own career growth, and follow up with them appropriately. This is a relationship; you get out of it, what you put into it.
How Do I Find A Mentor?
Finding the right mentor takes time and research. Start with a list of people you have met who have the skills, characteristics, and have done the jobs that you would like to do. You want someone who can make suggestions regarding skills to learn, certifications you might need, and generally how to deal with situations that you will be facing. Once you’re ready to reach out to someone keep it casual. You are working to develop a business friendship. The mentorship relationship will develop over time as you casually ask for advice or input on what is happening in your life. Keep in mind that your goal is to receive continued advice and insight over the long term. Show your mentor that you value their time and investment in you by offering them your respect and appreciation.
Working with a good mentor may not cost you money, but it will cost you time and effort.
So now you have a mentor and you are receiving advice and insight to reach your goals. Don’t forget to pay it forward and you’ll learn even more of what’s actually worth knowing. We all need help. No one gets to the top alone.