Mentorship is a useful tool in any leadership toolbox. It’s also a tool that many don’t stress the importance of early on in careers, and unfortunately, it’s a tool that not all organizations help facilitate. Yet mentorship provides the necessary guidance that one would need to navigate leadership and senior decision making.
I’ve noticed people often talk about finding a mentor in the singular, but I’d like to stress the importance of not limiting yourself. Every individual’s professional and personal development has different needs.Think of it like players on any sports team—they all have a specific job to do, as do mentors. Find the right mentor for the right job, but this means you have to strive to have multiple mentors.
I’ve been fortunate to experience many sides of mentorship, and I wanted to provide some of my own personal experience from three different types of relationships I’ve sought out.
Mentorship Through a Program
I’ve had the pleasure in taking part in PromaxBDA’s Mentorship Program. The program outlined what mentorship actually is and helped me define my own personal goals. When I applied for the program, my intention was to grow professionally and further build my network. This program in particular has far surpassed my initial objectives, and given me much more than initially expected.
With the support of my amazing mentor, we have had to both redefine and add new goals, as I have had great success with my initial objectives. Defining what you are looking for in a mentor is extremely important. I can honestly say I would not have been this successful with my professional targets without my current mentor from PromaxBDA’s Mentorship Program.
But remember, as the mentee you drive the bus. It’s up to you to keep everything on track by setting up meetings or calls with your mentor. Be prepared to direct where the conversation is going. What do you need help accomplishing?
Why apply to a mentorship program?
- You are provided a completely unbiased view. Your mentor has likely not been a part of your professional career, so you have a fresh slate to ask anything.
- You have limited time, which means you will need to make the most of your time with them.
- Programs start by helping you define your goals, and continuously ask you to redefine your goals. They will provide tools and guidance to help you sort out what you are really hoping to achieve.
- Your mentor may be able to provide alternative solutions or questions from a completely different area of your industry.
Apply through February for our PromaxGAMES 2019 Mentorship Program
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Mentorship Through a Superior at Work
Throughout my entire career I have looked to build mentor relationships with senior leaders. I saw the value in my own growth and development, and in doing so, I noticed that most of the leaders that took me under their wing came from within my own organization. It is a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties.
I have been lucky to have many amazing superiors stay on as my mentor while I grow my career. For example, in a previous job, I was advised by one of my mentors to have coffees with as many senior executives as possible. They directed me to seek advice and extend my mentorship network further. This was some of the best advice I have ever received, and I suggest you do the same. Don’t wait until you are moving onwards and upwards; start today!
The hardest part can be staying in contact with your mentors if you move to a new company. You just have to remember to keep in touch and reach out when you need their advice on something. If you have established a strong relationship, they will be there to support you, as well as provide new tools as you continue to climb up the corporate ladder.
Why seek mentorship from a superior or senior leader at work?
- It can (and should) be in their best interest to mentor internally. Take advantage of this, even if others are not.
- They are more likely to provide opportunities as they see your growth.
- They will know the environment you are in, and can provide a different perspective that you are likely not privy to, or aware of.
- They can support your (good) ideas, as long as you are working together toward a common corporate goal. If you are lucky, they will also back you up with senior leadership.
- They can help you when you unsure of a new role—even if you are no longer working under them.
- At the end of the day, they will want to see you succeed.
Mentorship Through a Friend or Colleague
Throughout your life you have most likely gone to friends to seek advice. Why stop at work advice? Personally, I tend to seek advice from friends in completely different industries to get a different perspective. I turn to friends in my own field to gain insight into general industry news and trends. I seek advice from past and current colleagues because they are familiar with my strong work ethic work and can tell if I am misinterpreting a concern, and can advise me further.
I have also learned from those that have reported directly to me. Everyone and anyone can provide insights and guidance, just know what you are looking for and pick the right person(s) to offer up their advice.
Why seek out mentorship from a friend, work colleague or employee?
- They are always there to listen—and you are likely providing the same support back to them
- As a colleague, they are in the grind with you. They understand the situation and sometimes can help you see a different side of your problem.
- They are likely going through the same growing pains trying to get up the corporate ladder. Whether they are at the same level, above, or below—we are all in it together!
Kelsey Aikman is the director of marketing and communications for Marble Media and Distribution 360, and a participant of PromaxBDA’s Mentorship Program.