Why Women need Mentors
A mentor is someone who has experience in what you are experiencing and is willingly and open-heartedly to share those experiences with you and their aim is to help you grow. They are going to ask you tough questions for you to reflect and answer.
In the past, I have needed a mentor when I have felt low. When I am judging me. When I feel like an impostor and worried that people will think I really don’t deserve to be there. When I needed to ‘bounce’ my thoughts and feelings by someone who won’t judge me. Someone who is willing to share their experiences. Someone who is honest and someone who has not got a divested interest in what I decide to do with that guidance I have received.
For the last 15 years, I have had the privilege of being a mentor to over 500 people. Here are some of my insights into how to chose a mentor that suits you.
- Get clear on why you need a mentor. This means getting a piece of paper or a post it note and list the areas you need support in. Put things down without worrying about being judged. An example is: When I got upset when a woman at a business function said to me ‘You got an article published when they didn’t have many stories. No wonder.’ I ran that by mentor and put in a category ‘get hurt easily/react’. It was really helpful to talk about things that get me down.
- Write down how you like to work. An example is: 'I don’t want a mentor to put things lightly or beat around the bush’. I also have a preference to have a mentoring session in the morning as that is when I learn the best. Work out how you want to receive the mentoring.
- Have the courage to ask for a mentor. In an organisation, ask your manager to pay partly or fully for your mentoring as it will have a ripple effect on your work. A lot of women who have come to be mentored by me have said “I’ll just pay for it’. I ask them to have the courage to ask and when they do, 9 out of 10 times, the organisation has partly or fully funded the mentoring program. As part of this, your manager may want to have input into areas you need development in.
- Check out your mentor. Don’t be excited about who they are. Be excited to evaluate whether they are the right fit for you. A few years ago, I was suggested a mentor and after our coffee meeting, I felt that this person was not a right fit. I don’t have to justify this. Feel into how safe you felt. Was he/she a good listener? Did you feel that they had the right experience to share with you. Were they open? Did they seem passionate about you?
- Do the work. Ask your mentor before you start what they expect you to reflect on and how much time you need to put aside between sessions and how often your sessions will be? Will they want you to read a book or keep a journal? You need to then put aside time to do the work. Schedule it in your diary so you are not getting the basics done before your next session. The more you put in, the more you can get out of your mentoring.
I hope some of these insights give you the permission to ask more questions, be more bold and have the courage to take the steps to improve your professional and personal life through mentoring.
Any questions, just ask me on firstname.lastname@example.org