“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”
– Steven Spielberg
There’s a growing trend among elite leaders to utilise the skills and experience of a mentor. Every enterprise goes through various permutations and progressions. Because of this, leaders will often find themselves in unfamiliar waters.
New issues could pertain to growth, consolidation, new markets, recent innovations, office politics, personal conflicts and affairs, etc. If you run a company or a department, then who do you turn to when completely stymied by a predicament? Often, issues can be resolved with in-house conferences or board meetings, but occasionally, there’s a dilemma that requires an independent and detached discretion.
Understanding the nature and scope of your problem is essential. If you are at an impasse, then this is where a mentor can be helpful. Maybe, you need more information to seek a resolution? Perhaps, you also need a lawyer, executive coach, consultant, professional therapist, etcetera?
You want a mentor who has nothing to gain professionally or personally as a result of having your confidences or from the outcome of your decisions. That means, from my past experiences; it has to be someone completely unrelated to both your business and social life. You need someone who can help facilitate clarity, vision, and perspective. That’s where a mentor is invaluable.
Be prepared to pay your mentor for their time, or work out an arrangement. Always keep your business interactions professional.
Who would make a good mentor?
1. Someone who has retired from your field or has moved on to a different career.
2. Someone with whom you have respect and appreciation for their thoughtfulness, intelligence, and values.
3. Someone who has a flexible schedule and can accommodate your needs
What to look for in a mentor?
1. Someone with a wealth of life experience
2. Someone who listens well and makes an effort to understand your situation fully.
3. Someone who asks the right questions. They bring the important issues into focus allowing you to make decisions with adroitness and confidence; presenting inquiries that lead you to those “eureka moments.”
4. Someone who is not going to tell you what you need to do next, but who helps you define your vision and support it.
5. Someone who doesn’t think they know it all and have seen it all, but realises that each situation has its uniqueness; filled will layers of complexity and future implications.
How do you find a mentor?
1. Ask around. Most have success with word-of-mouth referrals. You can try your local chamber of commerce or read various books or articles by writers who are from fields related in some way to yours. If you like what they’re saying and how they say it, then contact them. You have nothing to lose.
2. Try a few out. In the end, you may need more than one. The more in-demand a mentor is, the less time they will have for you. You will need to have a backup. You may find that one mentor is better for office politics, and another is better for dealing with other issues.
3. Stay open minded. The mentor could be from an entirely different field, but this could help you in finding out-of-the-box solutions.
There is no reason to struggle on your own, toiling and vexing in isolation. Having a mentor will empower and invigorate you rather than the alternative.
Once you find yours, you may wonder how you ever lived without one.
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