You’re an established, successful professional and decide that it’s a good time to give back and become a mentor. After all, you probably had one or two along your professional and personal journeys and those people had a strong and indelible impact on your life. As a successful woman, sharing strengths and challenges is one of the best ways to pave the way for the next generation to become leaders and create their space in the world. It’s also yet another rung on the corporate social responsibility ladder; investing in the lives and the successful career paths of the next generations of leaders benefits all of us. Here are a few ways to maximize your mentorship experience:
Be sure you have the time to give.
Time is always at shortfall, it seems. Becoming a mentor means being able to give of your time in a meaningful way, so be sure when you decide to dedicate yourself to an individual or group, you aren’t looking at your phone and trying to multi-task because you didn’t have the time.
Whether you go through an organization to match you with a mentor, or you have one within your organization or in your personal network, be sure you’re not wasting your time with someone who isn’t going to give their all. Look for motivation, tenacity, eagerness and a willingness to accept open feedback and constructive criticism. Conduct an appraisal a few sessions in and ensure that you and your mentee are communicating well and have an established rapport. If not, it is okay to recommend another mentor or move on.
Mentorship isn’t a therapy session, or an in-person version of What Color is My Parachute? You and your mentee should set clear, specific and measurable goals for your relationship and keep an open dialogue about the progress of the mentor/mentee relationship. This will keep both of you productive, on track and efficient with your time together.
Emotional intelligence can be part of the mentorship process.
While you may be mentoring someone in the same industry or career path, mentorship can also be a valuable lesson in emotional intelligence. Learning how to react to difficult situations, self-management, empathy, leadership and building relationships, to name a few, are critical components of professional (and personal) development and can be nurtured by you as a mentor.
Finally, recognize that the mentor/mentee relationship is two-way. While your mentee will gain valuable insight and knowledge from you, it can be a rewarding experience, during your conversations and meetings, to identify gaps in your knowledge base, identify efficiencies and gain new perspective on topics, issues, technology and more. Mentoring can be rewarding on a personal level, but it can also enrich and encourage your development as much as your mentee. As Phil Collins once said, “In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn.”
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