With National Teacher Appreciation Week this week, we wanted to step outside the confines of the classroom and consider the teachers of the business world, aka mentors.
Mentoring isn’t exactly a new concept. It played a huge role in the shaping of Western thought. There is no better example than the relationship between three of the most lauded philosophers in history – Plato, founder of the Academy in Athens, was a student of Socrates and a mentor to Aristotle.
Way before we ever get our first taste of business life, we are no strangers to mentoring ourselves. Our parents and teachers guide us through our youth and
That development then continues right through our careers. As we begin to take our first steps into our new corporate world, our manager becomes that first mentor figure. The best managers will seek to impart their wisdom in helping us develop and then the cycle perpetuates when we then become managers. Job titles aside, we are all constantly learning from each other, so we’re all mentors in some ways.
Become more visible
Not all companies have a mentoring programme so you might need to be proactive and find yourself a mentor, particularly if you feel your career is stagnating. A mentor will help raise your visibility, “Identify and obtain exposure to key decision makers in your company,” suggests Joel Garfinkle, a leading US executive coach. “As your mentors get to know you and your work, they’ll come to see that connecting you with these inﬂuential individuals will beneﬁt everyone.”
It’s also important to find someone that has the skills you feel you need to grow. If as part of your new role you have to help your organisation grow through acquisition, a mentor who has strategic or big picture skills would be the best fit. Similarly, if you need to influence through stakeholdering, seek out someone who excels at partnering and collaboration.
But mentoring isn’t only a one-way street. There has been a growing trend in ‘reverse mentoring’ in recent years as organisations have realised the benefit of pairing leaders with Millennials. Not only are execs able to pick up tips about social media and blogging, for example, but it helps them understand the mindset of the new generations, how they prefer to work, what motivates them and makes them tick.
So whether you’re forging ahead in your corporate career or starting a new business, we all need people who believe in us. As American author and businessman Zig Ziglar famously said, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” Therein lies the power of mentoring