Mentoring matters: forming valuable relationships in your leadership career
Anyone interested in a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership (MOL) should understand the importance of having a mentor and being a mentor. Mentors can help you look at problems and situations from perspectives that you might not have thought of on your own. And, by mentoring others, you gain exposure to fresh perspectives, are recognized for your expertise, develop your leadership skills and have a chance to reflect on your own goals.
Here’s a look at both sides of this type of relationship.
Benefits of Being a Mentor
An important part of leadership is learning to motivate others and helping them learn and grow. If you work for a large corporation, you might be able to volunteer for their mentoring program. If not, reach out to those in your personal and professional network. By helping others, you’ll develop your leadership and communication skills while helping another person advance his or her career.
Here is an excerpt from the Mind Tools website that presents good questions to ask yourself before you start a mentoring relationship:
- Do you want to share your knowledge and experience with others?
- Do you enjoy encouraging and motivating others?
- Are you comfortable asking challenging questions?
- Do you want to contribute to other people’s growth and success?
- Are you prepared to invest your time in mentoring on a regular basis?
- How will mentoring contribute toward your own career goals?
- How will mentoring add to your sense of contribution and community?
- What type of person do you ideally want to mentor? Can you describe the professional and personal qualities of this person? Do you want someone from the same profession or the same career path?
- In what areas are you willing to help? Are there any areas that you don’t want to go near?
Clarify your reasons and motivations for becoming a mentor. When you meet a prospective mentee, this will help you assess your compatibility.
Benefits of Having a Mentor
If you have a mentor, this person will be a source of inspiration, and help you gain additional self-awareness (telling you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear). Armed with firsthand experience and knowledge, they can help enhance your business skills. Consider your mentor to be a source of strategies, methods and tactics, knowing what does or does not work in a given situation.
In addition to teaching you, mentors will also serve as connections to a broader professional network. They can introduce you to contacts that can help you professionally.
Mentoring offers many more reciprocal benefits. Here are some points to consider before you seek out a mentor:
- What exactly is it that you need mentoring on? Before you start thinking of the ideal person to work with, know exactly what skills you need to develop.
- People like helping people who are helping themselves. Your own work experiences, studies and practice are what you can bring to the mentorship relationship. Mentors are interested in helping someone who is willing to learn and grow.
- Be considerate of other people’s time. More than likely, your mentors will be busy people. Meetings don’t have to be long. Small blocks of 15 minutes or less might be all that’s needed.
- Communicate on a regular basis. Send a short note or meet to exchange ideas, discuss progress and set goals for further development.
One of the best places to start a mentor/mentee relationship is in your graduate school classes. The MOL program at Alvernia follows a cohort model, meaning the students start collectively and graduate together. Each cohort is then placed into coaching/mentoring teams of four to six students, which work together on team projects. This teamwork cultivates the perfect environment for mentoring. In addition, the faculty in the MOL program can also serve as mentors to the students.