Finding a leadership mentor within your company is a great way to grow professionally. Though most people know this and strongly agree, they feel hesitant moving forward, not sure where to begin. If this sounds like you, know that you are not alone! Here are 5 simple steps you can take to get started:
1.) Understand what mentorship is.
A mentorship is where one working professional guides another by providing career advice, support, and assistance. They are usually someone that has a similar background and is now working within a field or position the “student” aspires to. Though some companies offer formal mentorship programs, most do not, so the decision to obtain and work with a mentor rests solely on the employee’s shoulders.
2.) Know your goals.
Before you ask anyone to be your mentor, you need to figure out what your professional goals are, both short and long-term. Knowing what it is you want to accomplish will help you decide who is best suited to lead you. You should also determine what your expectations are for the mentorship. Remember to be reasonable. (For example, monthly coffee dates are a fair ask, but lunch meetings 3 times a week are not).
3.) Pick a mentor.
Is there someone within your office who has skills you want to emulate? Are they in a position you hope to be in over the next 5+ years? If so, ask. This should be someone you already have a positive working relationship with, who has been within their role for an established length of time. Make it clear you are in no way trying to take their job, you simply admire what they do and feel there is a lot you can learn.
4.) Have a plan.
Share your professional struggles and goals and how you envision the partnership working. Though most people are honored and happy to help, some may not be able to, through no fault of their own (they may be caring for an ill family member, or are perhaps looking for a new job). Be understanding and respectful if that is the case, thanking them for their time and consideration.
5.) Be committed.
If your mentor assigns you a book to read, read it. If they ask to meet up for coffee, meet with them. Asking and then not moving forward could hurt you professionally. Remember, a great mentor is one that will challenge you and push you from your comfort zone (in an encouraging way). Be ready to take compliments, and constructive criticism, to improve your overall performance.
Michelangelo once said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Aim high, ask for help and watch as your career blossoms into what you want it to be.