The Importance of Having a Mentor When You Are a Young Leader

Being a leader with big ideas and good people skills is a great start. However, having a person with more experience who can provide guidance, is the secret ingredient to your success. Here is why.

Do you ever feel stuck or losing focus? Have you ever struggled with solving an issue?

It is useful to have someone in your life who you trust and value their opinions. Listening to a well-versed person helps you make better decisions when you are unsure of yourself. An individual with an objective viewpoint can help you re-evaluate your problems and could direct you towards a solution.

Working with a mentor in your career makes a big difference when it comes to achieving your goals.

Mentoring can be part of a structured program or a more informal professional relationship. Whichever type of mentoring you choose you can only win.

Who Is a Mentor?

A more experienced individual who passes on knowledge, wisdom and expertise. Mentorship is a professional relationship between two people, the mentor and the mentee.

A mentor may share insights into his or her career, provide emotional support, motivation and role modeling.

More specifically, a mentor can help you with exploring a list of career strengths, setting goals, making contacts, or pointing you to resources. A mentor’s role in your life may change with your needs.

A good mentor can guide the mentee in a professional and friendly manner. The mentor should always have the mentee’s best interest at heart. It is useful to have a mentor who is someone else other than your boss for more objective guidance.

A mentor is usually someone who is considered an expert in their field. The same field you are hoping to conquer.

It is possible to have a mentor from another field of expertise and provide excellent advice. However, generally, mentees tend to stick with an expert from their field.

Having someone as your mentor does not necessarily need to be directly agreed on. If you feel mutual respect towards each other with someone who supports you, you might already have a mentor for yourself.

Why Is It Important to Have a Mentor in Your Life? 

When you are immersed in your everyday tasks it is easy to lose sight of your long-term growth. This is crucial to avoid wherever you are at in your career.

When you feel deflated or lack inspiration there is a bigger chance that you will make a wrong decision or fail to grow. However, if you have a mentor, you can turn to him or her in these situations.

Looking up to someone who is a constant source of inspiration comes with numerous benefits. It is an opportunity to get a reminder of why you started your career in the first place.

Working with a mentor to actively gain new experiences will force you to become comfortable outside of your comfort zone.

Young man being mentored

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Mentor vs. Role Model

Can you remember who did you look up to when you were a child?

A childhood role model made you feel like you too can achieve great things. Someone or something that kept you going even on your gloomy days. Who brightened up your mood?

I remember, as a kid, I wanted to become a person like Phileas Fogg from Around the World in 80 Days. He had curiosity, courage and integrity and most of all he believed he could make a difference.

Although a role model and mentor are two different things, there are similarities. Both can have a positive impact on your work and motivation.

Great inspirational leaders of our time

As an adult, my role model changed from Phileas Fogg to Jacinda Ardern. She is currently the youngest serving Prime Minister in New Zealand, elected at the age of 37. 

While you are on the look for a mentor, you can turn to your role model for inspiration. Today, your role model can also be your mentor, especially with all the advanced technology we have.

We can see what our role models are doing, we can even reach them through social media. Following tweets and posts of these inspirational people can help you grow and show a direction where you as a leader would like to go.

Prepare to be a Mentee

As a leader, you might be used to giving instructions to other people. Accepting advice from someone else could be a new experience.

Being flexible is an important quality you will need throughout your career. Being a mentee will require you to be flexible, to listen to ideas which you might not like at first.

Asking for someone’s opinion or direction might seem to you as a weakness. However, reaching out means you are open-minded.

For example, discussing how to deal with a particular issue could be very beneficial. A mentor might have ideas for a solution that you have not thought of before.

Do your research before you choose to ask someone to mentor you. Think about the people you respect and value and might have spare time for you.

Choosing the right person will enable you to develop a bond based on mutual trust and respect.

Qualities to Look for in a Mentor

Firstly, to find a mentor you need to define what you want out of your career.  

Secondly, your mentor should have more experience than you, and have a proven track record of success. You could then prioritize someone who has good knowledge about your current role and industry.

A mentor should be encouraging. He or she should urge you to step out of your comfort zone. While doing so, a good mentor also identifies your comfort zone and helps develop strategies to push your boundaries.

Being a mentor is a great responsibility and opportunity to help someone develop his or her best version of themselves. They need to be enthusiastic and show a good sense of sincerity.

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