How the optimal Mentor-Mentee relationship can be THE game changer.
One of the most frequently asked questions throughout someone’s life & career is “Do you have a mentor”? Or “Do you mentor someone”? A high majority of people answer yes to one or both of these. For myself personally there was nothing more important to any success or enjoyment I had in my career than this single entity. As I look back at my long career these relationships were truly game changers on both sides of the equation.
There is a true science & art to these critical relationships. I was blessed throughout my career to have several mentors who came into my career and life just at the right time. Each of them provided me something different. To this day several of them are still part of my “People Plan”. Now that I spend most of my time being a mentor I thought a lot about how this works best. Here’s a list I formulated based on learning from the most impactful mentors and my role as a mentee. It takes a critical investment to do this right:
- Finding a mentor who has nothing to gain other then helping the mentee. This represents the “art”. The optimal mentor cares ONLY for your success and is fully INVESTED in YOU. NOT THEM. They take the time to get to know YOU. The best mentors use their heart and soul, maybe even more then their brain.
- A mentor who has tripped and fallen throughout their career and not afraid to say so. Do I need help when everything is great or when I’ve learned from a mentor exactly what it takes to get back up to triumph?!?
- A mentor who is allowed to be brutally honest when needed. In other words this relationship can’t work without the mentee saying goodbye to their ego forever. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting to hear the truth but it’s a necessity to grow from. I still have some memories that make me cringe when I was told I wasn’t as great as I thought!!! But I learned so much about myself. Also when the mentor does say great things you know it’s true.
- Gaining a“SPONSOR”. This is a critical branch of being a mentor where there is someone who is willing to stand up for you in your organization when most needed. Even if it’s not politically correct for THEM. Being your sponsor whether it’s for promotions, political fights, project approvals. THIS MAY BE THE TOUGHEST to find, but maybe the most rewarding. For me it was.
- Do you need to find THE technical expert in your field to have a great mentor? Of course it’s an ideal trait if the rest is also there. But not necessary. Think about the best coaches in sports history. Most were not superstars at the sport they coached. But they were PEOPLE EXPERTS in understanding what it took to be successful and back to #1 on this list they CARE.
- A ROLE MODEL. This is someone who you can look up to. How they have invested in their career. In their family. In their friends. How they live their life. You can find someone who is great at Marketing, or is a Financial whiz. But when you admire someone as a mentor or a mentee those are the relationships you gain the most from and life changers.
As we get back into work after the long summer, it’s a good time to think about if we have this in our lives. It truly can be a Game Changer!