Consider influencers in your professional circle, formal and informal, providing lessons on topics from technical know-how to discernment required for finessing sensitive conversation. Whether consciously recognized or not, teachers are everywhere, some hidden in agonizing lessons ultimately growing into deep-rooted wisdom while others super bosses, furthering expert insight, facilitating our promotion and recognition. Although no journey resistance free, time spent in discomfort is partially within our control based upon how promptly one asks for help when faced with dilemma.
A Mentor is a person that allows you to see the hope inside yourself. – Oprah
Maybe another promotion opportunity passed or you received less than stellar performance review comments on business acumen making you uncomfortable enough to demand deep-seated change within yourself, but not understanding how to do it. Solutions, sitting just below well-intentioned but surface level advice, awaits discovery with guidance from a mentor, coach, therapist or guru, whichever channel resonates most with you. Unless enjoying your struggle, then carry on stumbling, awaiting crisis is another approach but preventative measures more advisable.
Only C-Suite bound wunderkinds have mentors, right? Perhaps in yesteryear, but aid in every form is available with no shortage of experts willing to impart practical knowledge. Shouldn’t my manager or organization train me? Training, yes but tutoring proficiencies eluding mastery are your responsibility. Of course, your supervisor offers knowledge, but playing licensed psychiatrist, not part of his job description. Obvious reasons for seeking mentorship include shifts in perception fast-tracking learning, powerful networking opportunities and enhanced confidence.
Hire a mentor for:
- Emotional intelligence. Not every supervisor has fortitude for wrestling with soft skill challenges, decoding nuances of human behavior necessitates self-awareness demanding the lion’s share of work from you. Mentors untangle bewildering conduct by assisting you with seeing a clearer picture of behavior expediting aha moments.
- Complexity of hierarchy. Common sense is a myth as the counter intuitive intelligence required for multifaceted management challenges baffles anyone without perspective gained from experience. Interpreting the rules, many of which unspoken, requires instruction as missteps linger in the minds of supervisors.
- Empathy. For sustained motivation, we must believe someone cares and our efforts meaningful at a personal and team level. Pats on the head are nearly obsolete in upper middle and senior director positions but when struggling, we need reassurance and understanding. An experienced specialist on your side improves confidence especially when a supervisor is not rooting for your success, a de rigueur career challenge.
- Applying theory. No matter how studied in business theory, successful application eludes even the most earnest managers. A neutral third party exposes inconsistency, aligning your walk and talk.
- Supervisors don’t tell the whole truth. Whether she doesn’t comprehend how to assist or opting out purposefully fearing backlash, protecting 360 management survey scores requires avoiding controversy. For example, being liked is more important for self-preservation than your professional growth as a result difficult feedback receives sugar coating or avoided altogether; popularity outweighs honesty.
- Biases impede learning. We unconsciously determine whom we will receive feedback from as a consequence ignore people that could help us. Remaining willfully unaware of biases hinders growth and leadership effectiveness so add this topic to your list of items to review with your coach. In the meantime, find a mentor you can hear advice from because while there may be a genius sitting next to us, her guidance goes disregarded, our preferences akin to tone deafness.
While support networks for sharing triumphs and tragedies are invaluable, friends listen with intention of solidarity in lieu of calling out flagrantly one-sided recounts. Sympathetic ears offer temporary relief for smarting feelings, nonetheless new perspective, including plans of action, requires transcendence of indignation so limit time wallowing in Chardonnay-fueled grumbling sessions. To clarify, don’t skip Chardonnay session entirely; instead, evolve by listening to professionals with ability to transform acrimony to positive action.
Select your mentor:
- Choose a coach outside the organization because candid sharing, working through scenarios without fear of judgment or retaliation is key.
- Consider mentors with complementary strengths to yours. We gravitate toward similar people but can learn more, the purpose of coaching, from different strengths, mindsets and opinions.
- Articulate challenges writing out scenarios and obstacles before interviewing potential mentors to pinpoint areas requiring assistance.
- Agree upon monetary exchange for counseling sessions. Financial exchange means business and having ignored mountains of excellent free advice, a hit to the checkbook ensures proper attention.
Follow your mentor’s preferred method of discovery keeping the following in mind.
- Keep your appointments.
- Tackle the tough stuff. Your mentor is not a crutch for daily problem solving, rather a voice of wisdom for reoccurring themes challenging progress.
- Keep lists of items for discussion so you are prepared and use time wisely, staying on-point.
- Stay open to criticism. Admittedly, criticism stings; acknowledging unsavory behavior is part of the activity.
Sometimes we are not ready to make changes preferring suffering a tad longer or until crisis, like losing employment, precipitates change. Only you know the right path even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. While your direct boss has acumen and technical ability to share, seeking an alternative viewpoint for further improvement may ease stress and shorten the mucking through it phase.
In conclusion, having an outside non-biased perspective to further decipher and navigate your career path is a valuable investment in your continuing leadership education. Everyone gets stuck. The faster you get un-stuck, the more pleasant work and life will be for you and those with whom you interact.
Post Statement: Send me a note if you are in the market for a mentor or coach as I would be delighted to facilitate introductions.
Raspberry Tart from La Tropezienne Bakery
Raspberry Tart Recipe should you want to make your own.
Orange Pastry Cream as a substitute for regular pastry cream. Inspired by La Tropezienne’s pastry cream with a hint of orange flavoring.
Disclaimer: The story and recipe above should not be considered advice as the readers and users of Chocolate Cake Mondays are not clients and therefore CCM is not liable for reader’s reliance on the information herein.