“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” Bob Proctor
Navigating your professional career can be challenging. You may encounter difficult colleagues you need to persuade. A stretch assignment. An underperforming team to engage and deliver results. A tough boss. Without support from an objective, encouraging, experienced professional, can leave you feeling isolated and alone.
With the help of a mentor, you can see things from a different perspective and challenges as opportunities for growth. In my experience I have had all of the above in my career and, at times, felt disheartened and lacked self-belief.
Oprah Winfrey said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Having the support and encouragement of a mentor helped me to recognise that these situations supported my professional growth, even when I felt like throwing in the towel!
Today, what stands out for me most in my mentoring conversations, is that my mentor provides the opportunity for me to think for myself. In this way, I have found solutions, developed courage and continued to develop in my field.
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” Benjamin Disraeli
In addition, my mentor has offered and shared her wisdom, knowledge and experience in a way that has generated more of my own thinking. Her insight and experience have been invaluable.
Three benefits of having a mentor:
1. To stimulate both your personal and professional growth. A good mentor will create an environment for you to feel safe, respected and listened to. A good mentor will ask you thought provoking questions in support of you accomplishing your goals. When your mentor listens for your character and values, that helps to nurture both your personal growth as well as your leadership capabilities.
2. To provide you with support, challenge and encouragement. A good mentor will share their experiences and knowledge with you in a way that sparks more of your thoughts and inspires you to step out of your comfort zone so that you achieve growth. A good mentor will offer their appreciation of what qualities they recognise in you so that you can capitalise on what you do well.
3. To hold up the mirror. A good mentor will hold up the mirror for you to see what you might be missing yourself. Sometimes we live in denial of what is right in front of us. For example, not addressing a problem that you have been tolerating for some time. A good mentor will challenge your limiting assumptions so that you can replace them with more liberating ones in service of you navigating your career more effectively.
What makes a good mentoring relationship?
The mentoring relationship is unique. It is different from that with your line manager. The mentor provides a safe, confidential environment for you to be yourself. For you to reveal yourself. For you to develop yourself. The mentoring relationship is also more informal and often lasts for years. So what does it take to develop a good mentoring relationship?
1. The relationship being based on trust and mutual respect. Where both mentor and mentee feel they added value to the relationship. In my recent experience of running a Thinking Environment® Mentoring Programme, both the mentor and mentee were given the opportunity to think about a topic that was real and important to them as part of the mentoring process.
The mentees expected this to be the main point of the mentor session. The mentors, however, had not expected they would have the opportunity to be listened to and think through something for themselves. This brought a richer and deeper dynamic to the relationship.
2. Both mentor and mentee are seen as an equal in their capacity to think for themselves. Whilst the mentor generally has more experience and knowledge within or from outside the organisation, the mentee can think equally well for him/herself in the presence of the mentor’s attention, questions and encouragement.
3. Both mentor and mentee recognise the value, character and experiences they bring to the relationship and share that. When you feel appreciated by your mentor and your mentee, it further adds to the quality of the relationship.
In my experience, feeling appreciated has enabled individuals to be more open and vulnerable. In turn, this has led to inspiring mentoring conversations and stunning outcomes.
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg
The impact of the Thinking Environment Mentoring Programme I recently ran suggested by the delegates included:
- It has the potential to bring out the best in people. To help them understand themselves.
- It will make a stronger organisation if we support each other in this way.
- A big one!
- I recommend any newly established mentoring relationship to consider going on the programme as it would help give them the tools to get the most out of their relationship by setting up clear structure and aims in terms of what the mentee is looking to get out of the relationship.
- This brings another side to how we work and what could be achieved.
What about you, do you have a mentor? Would you like to become a mentor? If you would like to learn more about the Thinking Environment Mentoring Process, please hit reply and I’ll be delighted to have a chat with you and share more.