Ask all of the successful business women that you know and most if not all will talk about how mentors have them in various stages of their lives and careers. Most leaders never could have achieved the results they have without the support, interest and feedback of trusted advisers, mentors. But what happens for successful business women if they could use the help and support of mentors, but don’t have any?
The ideal scenario should always be to have a group of mentors or others who you can count on for honest feedback and support before you actually could use them. It’s often very isolating for successful business women so the support of a trusted adviser can help them avoid making costly and bad decisions. Obviously you need to start out by analyzing where you need mentors and how they can help you. Once that is done, how can successful business women go about finding one?
Secret 1 involves determining what attributes, attributes and other characteristics of mentors would be most helpful to you. Write down the five attributes that you want your mentor to possess. Analyze what combinations would be most helpful to you. This could vary if you are looking for help with your career, a challenging business task or dealing with tough customers.
Secret 2 is to ask who your mentors could be. Potential candidates could be your friends, colleagues, family members, superiors or others. We would not suggest you just go out and ask them to be your mentor but that you first meet them and discuss some of your goals and challenges. Successful business women should realize Both mentors and mentees need to feel comfortable with the conversation so the required level of trust can be established. This is hard to force so don’t try too.
Secret 3 for those who you select as potential mentors is it important to ask for their permission to contact them on a regular basis. Perhaps you could say something to the effect of “Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it. Would you mind if I contacted you on a regular basis to get your feedback and advice.” This clarity is critical for successful business women to develop an effective relationship.
Secret 4 – Once you have your mentor, the next step is to actively work to establish a strong and effective mentoring relationship. For most successful business women it does not happen right away but will require ongoing planning and work.
There are several tips to making this happen:
Tip 1 – Always be clear about what you want or need to learn – you completed this self-assessment during your initial self-assessment activities so you should be able to elaborate on your need for a mentor
Tip 2 – Take several sessions for the mentor to learn about you as well as to understand what you want or need from them – They will need time to absorb the issues, concerns and challenges so they can determine the best way to help
Tip 3 – always be active and honest. While trust may take some time to develop, over time it is the most critical element to an effective mentoring relationship.
Tip 4 – be a good and effective listener. Failure to understand and incorporate the discussions with your mentor can be frustrating and de-motivating to both of you
Tip 5 – show initiatives and be proactive. You can’t sit back and wait for them to reach out to you. You must show in your actions that you are grateful for their support
Tip 6 – be ready for the challenge – this is common to many mentoring relationships because tough love is required to make it effective. You may not want to hear certain things but need to in order to be successful. Rather than get defensive or withdraw, successful business women use this advice to propel themselves to greater success.
Finding a good mentor is never easy but it is absolutely vital to the success of successful business women. The very best have many mentors throughout their careers who provide the support, perspective and feedback to help them make better decisions and avoid costly mistakes.