When I started my journey as a mentee, I was plagued by guilt and the feeling that I was wasting the time effort of my mentors. I didn't know enough or there better, more experienced young people out there that were more worthy of their time and efforts. It took me a long time to feel like I was a leader and someone worthy of the time and effort of my mentors.
The title, the awards, the degrees - all were so intimidating. But I cam to realise that these titles, awards, and degrees didn't make them a leader. What set them a part was their ability to continually learn, push outside of their comfort zones, and help others.
This program is about connecting you with amazing mentors, building your skills in nurturing these relationships so you can ask the right questions and find great resources to become a better leader and manager in your workplace. You are now becoming an advocate and supporter of mentoring to those around you.
To be a supporter of mentoring also means becoming aware to the common myths and assumptions that are out there. So, let’s have a look ...
Mentoring is a one way street …
Yup, your mentor is here to hep you find the skills you need to excel, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t learning themselves!
I know when someone asks me questions or enquires about an experience I've had, it opens up my eyes about how much knowledge I have tucked away. Being asked to share is something what makes my heart sing. Your mentor is here to share experiences, and help highlight resources that help you succeed - they know A LOT!
Plus, they’re learning about your perspective, practicing their own leadership skills, and listening to workplace concerns. There are people in aged care workplaces going through challenges just like yours - the more your mentor learns about you, the better skilled they are to support similar challenges in their workplace.
You only need one mentor …
One mentor is better than none. but building your own personal resource library (which includes mentors) is vital for ongoing career development.
The mentor you have been partnered with is an amazing resource. They have strong skills but the more mentors you are able to build into your personal army, the more perspectives you will be able to find. All aimed at helping you grow to become a better manager and leader …
For me, I started with one mentor. We had coffee, he listened and listened some more. He introduced me to his networks and opened my eyes to the power of mentoring. Realising that the more supporters and champions I had around me the better leader I could become. I now have multiple mentors that I can call at a moments notice. Mentors who are experts in management, leadership, sales, impact measurement, and also those who are ready to answer the call when I need encouragement after a really bad day (or week) in the office.
Mentoring relationships are organic ...
Mentoring partnerships take time and effort - for both the mentor and mentee.
Effort to organise meetings. Effort to follow up. Effort to build a connection with each other.
But effort doesn’t mean anything bad! For me the effort I’ve put in has been worth their weight in gold. Usually these relationships come pretty naturally. I enjoy catching up and hearing about my mentor's life and getting to know them as a person. but when it comes to talking about myself and what I want to achieve … it’s something I have always found difficult to articulate and share with others. It’s something my mentors know I’m working on ...
Others find the reverse - they find it easy to articulate their wants and needs, but difficult to connect on a personal level. What about you?
Mentors choose their mentees …
This all depends on personal experience BUT it’s up to both the mentor and mentee to each look at what they want and decide if a mentoring partnership is really what they want right now, and how this relationship will help them grow and evolve over the long and short-term.
I have had potential (and actual) mentors invite me out for coffee and offer their support as a mentor. At the beginning of my mentoring journey as it made me realise that I could really be a leader and I soaked up as much info as I could.
Now with a lot of mentoring experience under my belt, I go out of my way to find mentors with key skills that I need help with. I approach industry leaders, talk to them on Skype (or face-to-face) over a coffee, Finding out who they are, our shared passions, and I get to ask them some key questions. Its then I can really tell if this mentoring partnership is something I want to continue with long term.
If something goes bad, it’s all my fault …
I’ve also had terrible mentoring partnerships where I worked SO hard to make it work. I learnt, asked great questions, and put pressure on myself to be the best mentee and make a great impression … then the relationship just fell apart (sometimes really badly). That's when I reflect and see that it was never a relationship that was ever going to work. In this example, our personalities and expectations of mentoring were incompatible. I now know the signs of bad mentors (and what that looks like for me), and I steer clear when these red flags pop up.
Reflect. Learn. Implement. Grow.
Mentoring is no different!
You need a mentor to succeed.
False! Mentors can help accelerate your career path but they aren’t vital to success.
You can learn from observing others, reading, and applying knowledge.
Mentors can help you find shortcuts and networks to support your goals, but it’s all up to you, how you build relationships, and what you want to get out of a mentoring partnership.
Mentoring is a rare experience, only for those lucky few …
Mentoring is available to anyone. It’s about identifying who is in you network, joining programs (like this one), and being purposeful about why you want a mentor in the first place. By attending conferences, professional events, or reaching out to people you admire you can find mentors anywhere and anytime.
Comment below, which mentoring myth resonates most with you? Or do you have know one that isn't listed?