Most of us are familiar with what it means to be a mentor, or to be mentored. Mentors are trusted advisors and counselors who provide insight, feedback, and recommendations. Most companies encourage mentoring, and many have created formal mentorship programs.
The benefits of being a mentee include expanding your network and increasing your visibility, building personal and professional skills, learning about the “unwritten rules” of advancing your career, and benefiting from the experience and wisdom of your mentor. For more, read Arden Coaching’s “7 Benefits of Starting a Mentorship Program at Your Company.”
However, did the word “mentor” conjure an image of an older — perhaps even retired — executive sharing their stories and dispensing wisdom? This more passive, teacher-student model of mentoring is typical.
“Consider a more robust mentorship framework,” said Maren Perry, president and founder of Arden Coaching. “While mentors provide guidance and advice, they may also take a more active role — working directly with their mentees to build their executive and leadership skills, campaigning on their behalf for assignment to high profile projects and new professional experiences, and endorsing them for added responsibilities and promotion when opportunities present themselves.”
Mentors in this model may be younger executives or leaders who have risen to senior management levels more recently. Importantly, they are professionally invested in the success of their mentees. Of course, mentees in this model are expected to perform at a high level and actively demonstrate their value to the company.
Over time, a very positive mentorship experience may evolve into a mutually beneficial relationship — a partnership between a senior executive and a rising star.
Perry emphasizes that, “A mutually beneficial relationship happens organically, when values and opportunities align. It’s not because they’re trying to get something from one another; a mentor and mentee become great partners because they share values and a strategic vision. The senior person recognizes great talent and potential, and fosters it, and the rising star appreciates great leadership and ideas, and wants to model that behavior and work toward those goals.”
What’s the bottom line? Being placed as a mentee in this structure is a dynamic, practical way to accelerate your career. And, by successfully developing mentees in this more rigorous framework, mentors build a talented cadre of younger colleagues with deeper connections to the mission and vision of the organization. This approach enhances performance, builds a long-term leadership pipeline, and increases retention of gifted young talent.
“Think of it as mentorship on steroids,” adds Perry. “It’s a real career and organizational game-changer.”
For more about advancing your professional skills and elevating your game, read Arden Coaching’s “Five Ways to Progress From Worker Bee to Strategic Asset.”
To learn more about professional advancement and building leadership skills, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.