At some point in our careers, we may hit a slump where it has seemed impossible to garner a way forward. During some moments, we could possibly even feel completely out of our depths or challenged in a new field to the extent that this is a potential barrier to our success.
A possible solution to this is mentorship – where an individual is able to turn to the expertise of someone else who is more experienced than them for guidance and solutions to the different aspects of their challenges.
There are varying levels to mentorship but the inextricable dynamic between mentors and their mentees is one that is built not only on an exchange of knowledge and learning but also on trust in one another and faith in the process to yield learning and growing. When we unpack this, we can see just how invaluable the entire mentorship process is.
According to Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg’s website based on her book with the same title, mentorship is a two-way street: “Mentorship relationships start with a mutual connection – and mentors often select protégés based on their performance and potential. So shift your thinking from ‘If I get a mentor, I’ll excel’ to ‘If I excel, I will get a mentor.’”
Mentorship amongst women is especially important; a research report by Lean In and McKinsey, titled Women in the Workplace, shows that women are often excluded, have fewer sponsors and tend to get vague feedback, with men holding close to double the number of management positions with. Therefore, willing advisers, supporters, encouragers and anyone willing to stick out their necks for us at some point can make the difference between being stuck in a rut and believing in ourselves enough to persevere ahead on the road to success.
For the mentee…
“Over time mentors can develop into sponsors who use their status and clout to create opportunities and make connections for you. Before your mentor will sponsor you, she needs to trust that you are reliable and a bet worth making. To build trust, always follow through on what you say you’re going to do and always do your very best work. When you’re consistent over time, you build valuable trust with your mentor – and your co-workers.”
For the mentor…
“The best mentors go beyond mentorship and advocate for their mentees. Start by understanding your mentee’s career goals, then think through her best path forward and how you can help. Endorse her on social media. Recommend her for a high-profile project. Introduce her to people in your network. Find ways to open doors for her and invest in her success.”