Have you thought of mentoring but not sure exactly why people do it? Want to know what mentors get out of it? Read on as we highlight some of the great reasons that we have found to mentor others.
What Is Mentoring?
Mentoring is a relationship between two people with the goal of professional and personal development. The “mentor” is usually an experienced individual who shares knowledge, experience, and advice with a less experienced person, or “mentee.”
Benefits to the Mentor:
- Build your leadership skills
- Improve your communication skills
- Learn new perspectives
- Advance your interpersonal relationship skills
- Gain personal satisfaction
Here are 5 Great Reasons to Become a Mentor:
A. You Become More Relevant
Let’s start with an appeal to self-interest. The effort you put in to advise juniors makes you more valuable. Not everyone can communicate their insights clearly and inspire others to greater heights.
B. Your Employer Becomes More Competitive
Employers need well-informed and connected workers. It takes more than raw skill or intelligence alone to perform at peak. Transferring your insights to those who need them most fills in some crucial gaps. Mentees learn how to navigate workplace politics and handle difficult situations. They emerge better equipped to do their current job. Also you aid them in being promotable sooner.
Opening doors for junior staff is another important function of mentoring. You can introduce mentees to others in the organization who might otherwise be inaccessible. This cross-pollination makes it more likely the mentee will find growth within the employer. All of which adds up to a more competitive workforce. This makes it more likely your employer (and job) won’t fall prey to predatory upstarts.
C. Diversity of mentorship is important:
It is common to have one person you regard as a primary mentor, but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek out a variety of perspectives on a more informal basis as well.
Susan Liu, Principal at Scale Venture Partners, says, “At Scale Venture Partners, half of our investing partners are women and all of the men are naturalized citizens. Having such a diverse set of mentors has helped me realize that there isn’t a cookie-cutter for success in VC, or any industry for that matter. This gives me confidence in my own career path, and has helped shape the way I think about investing and entrepreneurship.”
D. Mentors can see where we need to improve where we often cannot:
Movie maker George Lucas noted, “Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults that we would like. It’s the only way we grow.” They will always be brutally honest with you and tell you exactly how it is rather than downplay any weaknesses they see in you.
This constructive criticism that my mentor offered helped me to see things in myself that I could not recognize. I appreciated that insight because I didn’t want someone to pad my ego. (Well, I did want someone to pad my ego, but I had to decide that the business was more important.) Instead, I wanted to know exactly where I was lacking so I could improve those areas.
E. Mentorship is beneficial for the mentors too:
Finally, just as the responsibilities of mentorship are shared by mentees, the benefits are shared by mentors.
“The most successful mentorships are the ones that are a two-way experience where both sides benefit from the relationship,” says Caine. “In these relationships, the mentor experiences satisfaction and new perspectives by providing guidance and insight to the person seeking advice, while the mentee gains the benefit of experienced advice.”
“We tend to think that mentorship was designed to help the mentees, the up-and-coming. But mentorship helps the mentor too,” adds Mickos. “To be a mentor makes you a more understanding human being. It keeps your mind young and your skills fresh. Successful people who don’t start to mentor others will over time lose touch with their own excellence. Mentoring someone connects you back to the original you who became so excellent.”