Mentoring Creates a Lasting and Treasured Personal Bond

Mentor SignboardPossibly you’ve never had a formal mentor, but like many of us, you’ve been mentored and have mentored others.

It just wasn’t called mentoring because you didn’t put a name tag on helping another person become better at her job and more skilled at building professional relationships.

Why Be a Mentor?

Mentoring means different things to different people. Very large organizations have mentoring programs in which a more experienced and knowledgeable executive is paired with a more junior person.

Sometimes the mentor evolves into a sponsor, who advocates on his protégés’ behalf, connecting him to important players and assignments.

Mentoring can take place at any time during your career – in your first job, or as you’re transitioning into more senior management positions. In our experience the most successful mentoring relationships happen organically. You can’t force them.

A good mentor is as important as a good teacher who will long be remembered for how she helped someone starting out to advance her career.

At a Tony Awards ceremony, Kelli O’Hara, winner of best actress for her role in “The King and I,” acknowledged her beloved Professor of Music at Oklahoma City University, Florence Birdwell.

O’Hara said, “I come from a place far away and there is a little teacher there and two of us, Kristen (Chenoweth) and I share her and thank you…yes, Florence, thank you.for giving me wings.”

The Mentor-Mentee Relationship

Mentoring is a two-way street. Mentor and mentee support each other. Helping someone is a great feeling and creates a win-win for both parties. If you’re the mentee, how you present yourself is key to the relationship. You are a reflection of your mentor and you want her to be proud of you.

Often your mentor will be your boss. The chemistry is right and you’ve shown that you value his advice and counsel. You seek his opinion and feel safe in being vulnerable when you have a problem to share or you admit to not knowing how to do something.

You know your mentor won’t consider not knowing how to do something a weakness but that a weakness is an opportunity to help you sharpen your skills.

You may become friends with the mentor, but you must always be professional in everything you do because the mentor is putting her reputation on the line by putting her faith in you.

A mentor can help you to navigate internal politics and get your good idea to the right people. She can also help you understand the culture, or “how things are done around here.”

A mentor will be generous in pointing out ways that you can add to the circle of connections. For example, by joining a professional organization you can further your career goals. Then she’ll get the company to foot the bill for your membership and meetings. Now, that’s a good mentor!

Many years ago, when I was starting out, I had a mentor and friend in Phyllis Berlow, who was a terrifically accomplished PR person. She offered invaluable guidance to me. I once told her, “The best part of my job is having my office next to yours.”

That’s because I knew I could always count on her being there for me. A mentor’s impact on your life lasts forever. Phyllis is gone now, but I still feel her influence in my daily life.

Have you had a fulfilling experience as a mentor or mentee? Please share it with our readers in the comment box.

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