Become a Mentor to Give Back, Get Back
Mastery comes from teaching, and mentoring others can become one of your most gratifying experiences as a leader. In this next post in The Makings of a Great Leader blog series, I’ll show you why mentoring others is so important, and why it can be a contributing factor in your own career development.
Mentoring: What it’s About
In simple terms, the word “mentor” is often defined as “to teach or give advice or guidance to”. Mentoring can also be thought of as paying it forward – it’s very likely you have been mentored at some point in your career – now, this can be your chance to use your skills, knowledge, and expertise to guide someone else in their journey.
There are no hard and fast rules on mentoring – some leaders mentor others via email, others meet one-on-one in person, and still others speak to a group. Some organizations even offer formal mentoring programs that you can participate in.
If you want to be a mentor, it goes without saying that you should be committed to your work and to your own continued development. Perhaps as importantly, you should feel invested in seeing another person learn and grow. Mentoring is a two-way street – you should be open to learning from your mentee as well.
Setting Boundaries as a Mentor
Although mentoring can be a very rewarding experience, it’s important to make sure you are ready to engage in the role. Asking some basic questions can help you determine whether you’re ready to begin mentoring. Before you decide, try to answer these questions:
- Am I ready to devote the necessary time to mentor?
- What’s my objective? What will I be sharing with my mentee? Will I provide guidance on a broad range of subjects, or will I focus on a narrower topic?
- How can I best communicate what I can and cannot do for my mentee?
- What steps will I take if my mentee approaches me with something I cannot provide guidance for, such as a legal matter or personal issue that goes beyond our work together?
- How will I handle confidential information when working with my mentee?
- How often will I meet my mentee? When we do meet, how much time will we spend together?
- How will we communicate with one another – email only, in-person, via phone, Skype or video messaging, or a combo of these methods?
- What will my availability to my mentee be outside our regular meeting times?
Remember, you’re the leader in this relationship. Instead of diving in without a plan, take all the time you need to figure out whether or not mentoring is the right choice for you. If it is, answering the questions above will help you be better prepared for the experience in the long run.
How You Benefit
The rewards of being a mentor are as diverse and varied as those who choose to mentor! Many find mentoring to be an enriching way to share wisdom and give back. It’s also one of the major ways you can have a positive impact on someone.
As you mentor others, you may discover things about yourself that you weren’t previously aware of, opening up new avenues of growth not only for you, but for your mentee as well.
From a career perspective, mentoring will help enhance your communication methods and assist you in mastering your subject in ways you never thought possible. Plus, it will help you continue growing as a leader.
If you feel ready to become a mentor, you’ll find the long-term benefits will be well worth the effort. The impact you have on your mentee can leave a lasting legacy, encouraging him or her to one day mentor others – truly embodying the meaning of “pay it forward”.