Leading Up in Mentorship

Mentorship is powerful. Few gifts compare to the willingness of a person with more expertise and experience who shares that knowledge with others. It has impacted my life and continues to impact the way we train and develop our team. The commitment invest into the next generation is the mark of true craftsmanship.

It’s worth noting that it’s not the job of the mentor to teach. It is the job of the student to learn. If you want to learn and grow, taking control of that process is up to you. As I’ve sought more mentorship over the years, I’ve put some guidelines in place when meeting with a mentor.

Do the Leg Work.

Simplify as much as possible for them. Be as flexible with your schedule as possible, sharing questions ahead of time, travel to them if meeting in person.

Honor their time.

Their time as much of a gift as the wisdom they share. Arrive early. Give them your undivided attention, which means remove your cell phone from sight. If you’re scheduled time is going to run over, be the one to offer an out instead of assuming they’ll stop the conversation.

Listen

This seems obvious, but it’s something we were never thought as children. If you’re goal is to learn, ask questions and process their response.

Take notes.

When someone is providing guidance, writing it down sends a clear message that their thoughts matter. For an initial interaction with someone, I’ll ask permission to take notes. This informs them of why I’m writing and gives them a chance to refuse if it makes them uncomfortable.

Avoid taking notes on a cell phone. Too many other distractions can emerge. No notes are better than cell phones being out.

Followup.

Send a thank you message, always. Include a few highlights of things they said that were most impactful. Gratitude is invaluable.