How Mentoring can help women succeed
I recently addressed a group of senior women professionals on the topic ‘Women empowerment in business’. As I spoke about various aspects that enable women to succeed, I found that the one that resonated most with the audience was the criticality of mentoring.
As I look back on my professional journey of 17+ years, I can attribute a significant portion of my success to my mentors. There have been several turning points in my career and each of those were guided by a mentor. I was once asked to take on a leadership role with global responsibility and was very hesitant about my ability to handle it. I still remember my mentor (who was my manager then) saying to me that he had confidence in my ability to not only manage, but also excel in that role. He asked me not to worry about making mistakes, since he would be around to help fix them. That changed my perspective and instilled confidence in me. I went on to do a great job and it catapulted me to a leadership level, leading to several exciting and strategic opportunities.
What kind of mentoring do we need?
Mentoring not only helps you develop and hone new skills, but it also provides professional sponsorship and personal support. Mentoring may take various forms based on the need, but there are three key aspects that one should consider.
Domain-oriented mentoring: A mentor with experience in your industry or field can help you chalk out your career path. Owing to their expertise and exposure, they can evaluate your proficiency in the domain and guide you on the skills you need to acquire in order to grow. They have probably traversed the same path as you and their successes and failures would help you gain contextual understanding. Considering the significance of upskilling in the current era, a domain expert can guide you on your learning path. Also, given their experience in the domain, they would have a strong network that could open up new opportunities.
Soft skill-oriented mentoring: Irrespective of your domain expertise, there is no denying the importance of soft skills in your professional life. Communication skills, leadership, people skills, social and emotional intelligence, all play a huge role in the way people perceive you. These skills often determine the efficacy of your work relationships and ultimately affect your growth prospects. A mentor can help identify the areas that need work. They can help set goals and define a strategy to get there. They would also measure progress, share candid feedback and tread the journey with you. Considering soft skills are difficult to measure and take time to master, having a mentor can be a great help.
Life skill-oriented mentoring: Life mentors need not be professional relationships. Someone among your family or friends or a trusted colleague could be a life mentor. A life mentor is someone you look up to as a role model. They help you navigate life through its challenges and opportunities, successes and failures. They help you formulate objectives for life and help you reach those goals. These could range anywhere from striking a balance between work and personal life or improving your relationships or gaining perspective. Considering current society where families are nuclear and people are fiercely independent, having someone to mentor you around life, can actually be a great support.
How does mentoring add value?
Now that we’ve seen the key types of mentoring we need, lets see why mentoring is successful and makes such a difference:
- Mentors are empathetic. They spend time getting to know you and understand your psyche, aspirations and dreams. Hence, they begin to relate to you at a personal level.
- Trust is one of the key pillars in a mentoring relationship. As a mentee, you can place complete trust in the mentor and be candid about your aspirations, fears and insecurities.
- A mentor recognizes and uncovers your potential and pushes you to reach it
- A mentor can be a great sounding board for you. You can brainstorm about challenges and figure out solutions together
- A mentor picks you up when you’re down or emotionally low and encourages you to keep trying
- A mentor is direct and candid with you about your shortcomings and weaknesses, and also helps you work on them
- A mentor is invested in your progress and derives a sense of satisfaction from your success
- A mentor can be your go-to-person whenever you encounter difficult situations
- A mentor can leverage her network and connects to create new opportunities for you
- A mentor can vouch for you and thus be a valuable sponsor
- A mentor generates respect owing to their accomplishments and can be a role model for you to look up to
You could always tread your professional and personal journey independently, learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up, motivate yourself and move on. However, when mentoring could help you navigate your journey effectively, why not leverage it? It might end up making all the difference.