This article was based on episode 258 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of the Modern Manager community get two months of Fast Forward membership for free. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.
Behind every great person is an amazing mentor. Mentors can dramatically impact our lives and inspire us to move in the direction of our dreams. But what does it mean to be a mentor in the modern world? And how do we go about finding our person?
It’s important to realize that a mentor is different from a coach. Coaching is a profession which includes expertise from certifications and a philosophical approach. Mentorship is a way to invest in someone else through a relationship. The expertise comes just from a person’s lived experience.
Joining me to offer a few key guidelines to effective mentorship is Scott Jeffrey Miller. Scott is a highly sought-after speaker and author, as well as the host of the world’s largest weekly leadership podcast, On Leadership With Scott Miller. Scott currently serves as FranklinCovey’s senior advisor on thought leadership. He explains here some critical do’s and don’ts of mentorship, as well as how to set healthy boundaries and inspire others from an authentic place.
FIND THE RIGHT MENTOR
If you’re on the search for a compatible mentor, get very clear on what you’re trying to accomplish. You don’t have to find someone who’s the best in their field; often you can learn just as much or more from the failures or messes of other people’s lives. As Scott puts it, if you’re wanting to have a happy, long marriage, speak to the guy who's been married five times. You’ll learn a lot about what not to do!
Reach out to people beyond your comfort zone. Maybe you find someone on LinkedIn who’s in the line of work you aspire to. Be upfront about what you’re hoping for, including many sessions, where you want virtual/in person, and what your goals are. Consider offering anything you can give back to them. Mentorship can go both ways!
If you’re still at a loss, consider asking others if they have recommendations for someone for you to reach out to for mentorship.
The truth is that we can even find mentors just from the books we read. Even if an author is no longer living, their words may impact how we choose to live our lives. If you find a mentor through a book, you may imagine how the author might respond to different challenges and questions in your life.
YOUR BOSS ISN’T YOUR MENTOR
It may seem like your boss fits the bill for someone with the experience you’d love to learn from, but Scott warns us of the downfalls of having your boss as your mentor. You don’t want your mentor to be the same person who’s responsible for your income or even someone who is too closely connected to your day to day work. It’s important to find a mentor who can look at you objectively. They should have some distance from your work challenges, and be someone you would feel comfortable being brutally honest with. This way, you’ll get the greatest benefits from the relationship.
If you’re the boss, think hard before formally mentoring one of your direct reports. You have a specific role to play as their manager which only you can do. Help your team member find the right mentor instead of filling that role yourself.
SET UP THE MENTORING RELATIONSHIPS FOR SUCCESS
In Scott’s recent book The Ultimate Guide to Great Mentorship: 13 Roles to Making a True Impact, he explains how mentors play 13 different roles based on their strengths and the flow of the relationship. They may choose at different times to focus on one role or another. These roles include the Revealer, Boundary Setter, Absorber, Questioner, Challenger, Validator, Navigator, Visionary, Flagger, Distiller, Activator, Connector, and Closer.
As you engage with a mentor, expect them to be your partner. (You may even want to encourage them to read Scott’s book!) Together, you can foster communications that help you each gain something valuable from the relationship.
Set Healthy Boundaries
One of the early roles that a good mentor will play is that of Boundary Setter. The key is to be super clear about your expectations. Invite your mentor to be upfront about what they will and won’t offer, so there won’t be any confusion or awkwardness down the road.
If you’re the mentor, let your mentee know up front if you don’t want to be their therapist, connector, or investor. As time goes on and the relationship deepens, you may both find yourself comfortable going beyond your original boundaries and redrawing the lines of your mentorship. Having this boundary setting conversation upfront can be awkward, but it will prevent any misunderstandings in the long run.
Inspire Others Through Authenticity
Mentors have the ability to instill a deep sense of self esteem and power in their mentee. They do this by pointing out what they see in us. This may be through genuine compliments of our expertise or pointing out what they see as our area of genius. A mentor’s words of validation about our gifts will likely stay with us for the rest of our lives.
If you’re the mentor, be authentic and specific about what you really notice. Validate the exact skill and area of growth you see as their superpower. When someone we trust gives us this kind of specific, positive feedback, it propels us forward in incredible ways.
We don’t need any fancy degrees to mentor another person. It’s all about looking within and finding the insights from our own life experience. To further your own development, consider who in your life would be an amazing mentor. If you set up the right expectations and are specific about your goals, you’ll be amazed at how much people will step up to offer their wisdom and support. What they see in you will be an inspiration for you for the rest of your life. Mentorship is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
KEEP UP WITH SCOTT
Great Mentorship Website: http://www.greatmentorship.com/
Gray + Miller Website: http://www.graymilleragency.com/
Get a digital card deck for mentoring sessions when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.
This article was based on episode 258 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.