The Single Best Way to Proactively Seek the Benefits of Mentoring

Season #1

The Single Best Way to Proactively Seek the Benefits of Mentoring

This will be a multi part series of musings coming to you from the shores of Rinc贸n, Puerto Rico.

Part one.

8 Things To Know About Accessing Mentorship

  1. Women are improperly/imperfectly mentored. So you may have seen books and articles positing the idea that women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. What I want to say about that is, yes, women are under-sponsored, but we are most likely improperly mentored.
  2. Mentoring and sponsorship aren't two separate entities. Mentors can become sponsors, and sponsors can be people who mentor you. So it's important to understand the value of mentorship and the value of sponsorship.
  3. Value of mentorship. The way I think about it is that mentors are people inside and outside your organization who help you identify and work toward your career aspirations. They can provide guidance, they can teach skills, they can share their own experiences so that you can learn from them.

    And mentors have traditionally tended to be more senior people, but they can also be more junior people who have a particular skill set that you would like to further develop. The important thing about mentors is you don't have to rely on just one. And it's extremely valuable to have mentors inside the organization who can guide from a perspective of "the way things are done around here" and mentors outside the organization whose only vested interest is in your success and not the overall organization.
  4. Mentors enter your life in two different ways. One is that they recognize something in you and choose to want to support your career success. In this way, it's also true that your manager can be a mentor. He or she can devote additional developmental time  to your skills.  And they too can invest additional time into helping you develop your skills.

    The other way that mentors can enter your life is through your proactive initiative. Now, having been approached many times to be someone's 鈥妋entor,
  5. How NOT to seek the benefits of mentoring. The way to proactively seek mentorship is not 鈥妕o ask someone to be your mentor. Chances are most of the people you would want mentorship from are extremely busy, and an open ended request to become a mentor is quite daunting.

    It doesn't explain what you want mentorship on, what your assessed skills are in that area, or a time frame.  And many people who are approached to become mentors, the minute they hear that question are thinking, "Oh my God. This is a commitment of an indefinite time period. No thank you.
  6. The single best way to proactively seek the benefits of mentoring. Instead, what I recommend that you do if you want to proactively seek mentorship, is to first, do an assessment of the most important skill area for your development.Second, Identify someone who you know is highly skilled in that area and third, come to them with a very specific request along the lines of: 
  7. "Hi Terry, I am working on developing my leadership skills. I've identified that I need further. Expertise in the area of financial acumen. I've seen you present at the All Hands meeting, and you tell a compelling story about the financials. Would you be willing to spend three sessions with me focusing on a high level understanding of our financial reports? How you convert those numbers into a compelling story, and what someone at my level needs to be doing in order to develop their financial acumen further."
  8. How to handle a "no." Now Terry might say yes, in which case the happy child and you can celebrate Or Terry might say no. In the case of no you could follow up and ask, "Are you saying no because it's a busy time for you, and you might be willing to do this at a later date? If so when? or you might follow up by asking, "Is there anyone else you would recommend I approach for this kind of leadership development?"

Now, if you've listened carefully, you've seen that I have not used the word mentorship at all in this request or in the follow up. 

This morning's focus coming to you from the shores of Rinc贸n, Puerto Rico is on mentoring.

Catch you next time,


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Podcast produced and original theme music by Megan Tuck