Have you ever considered becoming a mentor, but then decided against it because you weren’t sure how to get started, or how you could best get involved? Or, maybe you weren’t sure if you really had the right tools and skills to offer guidance and direction?
According to Michelle Obama, “All of us are mentors. You’re mentors right here and now. And one of the things I’ve always done throughout my life, I have always found that person, that group of people that I was going to reach my hand out and help bring them along with me.”
When women lead, they not only lead businesses, but they lead in their community, they fight for their children, and they give voice to issues that are important to our collective future. As more and more women lean in and promote upward mobility, it’s crucial to keep the trend going by continuing to reach back and pull up the next generation of young women and girls along with us as we climb to new heights.
Learn, share, and grow right alongside your mentee
We all have this power through the simple act of mentorship. A mentoring relationship is filled with learning opportunities for both mentor and mentee. It may take time and requires a level of commitment when you’re starting. However, the benefits of helping someone by sharing your knowledge greatly outweigh the efforts it may take. Additionally, Being a mentor can help you re-engage with your skills and find a new sense of direction or purpose.
A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of us to show us how they did it. A mentor walks alongside us to show us what we can do. – Simon Sinek
In case you need more convincing on why becoming a mentor is a great idea, read on as we highlight some of the other great reasons:
1. Change someone’s world by becoming a mentor.
Do you remember a teacher, a coach, or a former boss who said or did something that changed your life trajectory? This is your chance to do that for someone else. Not every mentoring partnership is life-changing, but every mentor has the potential to instigate surprising change.
2. Enhance your leadership skills.
Being a mentor allows you to develop skills such as listening, perspective, self-knowledge, compassion, courage and integrity; these attributes can enable you to be a better leader in your own right. You’ll find yourself working harder to live up to the expectations of your mentee. After all, you can’t advise her to work hard and do things you aren’t willing to do yourself. With the mentee’s spotlight on you, you’ll push yourself to grow as well.
3. Becoming a mentor will encourage you to learn from others.
One of the benefits of mentoring is that learning happens for both parties involved. First, the mentee benefits from your willingness to share your experiences in an informal, conversational setting. Then, the mentor benefits from learning how the mentee approaches problems or situations. This two-way exchange of ideas and knowledge provides different perspectives and facilitates a growth opportunity for both you and your mentee.
4. Help shape the leaders of tomorrow.
Mentees will often (but not always) be younger than you. It’s easy to think the next generation needs more education while you have it all figured out. But the truth is that today’s youth are the ones creating the workplace of tomorrow. For instance, they understand trends and technology that may escape you. If you watch your mentee closely, you’ll almost certainly pick up some information or habits that are new and beneficial to you.
5. Mentoring gives you opportunities for self-reflection.
As you work with your mentee on their career path, career challenges, and anything else that may arise, you will find yourself contemplating your own leadership journey as well. This can be a powerful experience as you will undoubtedly find lessons in your own development which you can pass along to your mentee.
Sharing your experiences may help you understand them in a different light; a moment that barely impacted you may provide crucial insight to another person. Sometimes you need to get out of your head to understand yourself better.
6. Gain new perspectives and fresh ideas by becoming a mentor.
Mentoring is a unique opportunity to step outside your normal circle of friends and gain an intimate understanding of how the world looks through someone else’s eyes. New perspectives lead to fresh ideas, and who knows where fresh ideas could lead you?
7. Gain the intrinsic rewards of helping others.
There is little more rewarding then knowing you are making a difference in someone else’s life. Being a mentor for a young woman can be an especially powerful experience. You have the opportunity to help your mentee develop strong self-advocacy tools, and chart a path for themselves as they break free from limiting societal norms.
8. No good deed goes unpunished.
You can’t take from others without giving something back. It’s important to take the time to invest in future female leaders—no matter how cluttered our schedules are. Surround yourself with people who build each other up, support each other’s career development, and make time to teach each other. It’s a win-win for everyone.
When you decide to mentor someone, you really have no way of knowing how far she’ll go. Whether you shape the next great entrepreneur of our time or help someone achieve her dreams, you’ll make a difference — and that’s all that matters.
To learn more about mentoring, check out these great organizations:
Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”
– Denzel Washington
In the spirit of celebrating women, read about 15 ways to celebrate women’s history month here.