Find Your Yoda

A good mentoring relationship allows both mentor and mentee to develop new talents and build self-awareness. In business settings, the mentee can become more in tune with a corporate culture, and the mentor can hone leadership skills. But arguably the toughest part of a mentoring relationship is finding a mentor. Don’t expect results overnight, but do what you can to cultivate potential mentor relationships.

WHAT IT MEANS: Having a mentor (or a few—there’s no rule that says you can have only one) is one of the smartest things you can do to advance your career. He or she can be an invaluable ally, supporter, and guide—someone whose wise perspective can help you more adroitly navigate the treacherous shoals of office politics; someone who will take a genuine and ongoing interest in watching your back and helping you advance to the next level. Who wouldn’t want that? That being said, mentors are not fairy godmothers—you don’t get one just for being the main character in your own story. You need to make a conscientious effort to identify appropriate mentors and make yourself an attractive mentee. First and foremost, there has to be good personal chemistry—do you and your potential mentor really and truly click? Would-be mentors are most receptive to people who ask good questions, listen well to the responses, and demonstrate that they are hungry for advice and counsel.

ACTION PLAN: Consciously think about where you are in your career, and where you would like to be. Honestly assess what type of personality you have, and which personality types complement your style. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, and define how a mentor might guide you through your growth. If you don’t know yourself, how can another person support you and help you grow? Also, try to keep an open mind regarding who this person might be: A mentor is someone who will help you grow in the area(s) most important to you. This person is not necessarily your supervisor or anyone with a high-ranking title or even someone in the same business. Look for someone who exemplifies the traits and skills that you want to adopt. If your accountant models the mind-set management behaviors that you strive for, she could be your mentor.

EVEN BETTER: Understand that the relationship is a two-way street. The mentor might also benefit from some of the skills, competencies, and perspectives that you bring to the table. The best working relationships are mutually beneficial. Ask not only what your mentor can do for you . . .

Reprinted from “Rick Frishman‘s Sunday Tips”
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