Author: Julie Rock-Chatellier - VP, Strategic Initiatives
Provencher & Company, LLC
I have been lucky enough to have several mentors over the years and they have had a significant impact on both my professional career and personal life. I am a supporter of mentoring in business and have been, at different times, on both ends of the process. If you are lucky, you will have at least one great mentor in your life -- a person who will inspired and encourage you to be the best version of yourself, to take risks and not be afraid to go after success.
What is a successful mentor? Mentors are people who are open to sharing their knowledge, experience, insight and will willingly offer their counsel; striving to make you a better person. The best mentors are great listeners who have perhaps walked the same path to success you are currently on, who understand the challenges you are facing and offer a variety of strategies and ideas to help you overcome obstacles and excel past them.
Here are five reasons why you need a mentor in business:
- Mentors are trusted advisers.
In the world of business, it can be hard to know who to trust. Since a mentor is often an objective third-party with no stake in any idea or project, they will be happy to let you know what they think. In return, you will know that they will keep everything you tell them confidential rather than share it with someone else or steal an idea from you.
- Gain experience not shared in books.
There's only so much knowledge you can gain from books or from attending a class or seminar. Mentorship is one guaranteed way to gain experience from someone with first-hand experience that you can trust. A mentor has already been there and has already made many mistakes which they can use to help others to skip the devastating effects of not knowing in advance.
- Have you thought of everything?
As much as you would like to think you can, you can’t think of everything! Simply stated, you may be too close to the situation. A mentor has the ability to step back and to review situations objectively. They aren’t emotionally involved, so they have the ability to be more impartial. It is the classic “two heads are better than one” approach. Your mentor may come up with ideas that are new and different. Mentors are great sounding boards to bounce ideas off of for an unfiltered opinion.
- Mentors help you network.
A successful mentor has an unlimited network of people who can benefit your career. Playing a dual role of teacher and connector, a mentor can provide access to those within your industry that are willing to invest in your company, offer their skills and expertise, introduce you to talent that can grow your knowledge and help you get closer to your target audience. A good mentor may take you to events and making introductions that led to many opportunities you would not have otherwise had.
- You're more likely to succeed with a mentor.
Your chances of success in life and in business can be improved by having the right mentor. In hard times, having a mentor will help you keep your head high. The valuable connections, timely advice, occasional checks, together with the spiritual and moral guidance you will gain from having a mentor will greatly improve your success.
Always keep in mind the difference between a mentor, a friend, and a coach. You should expect a mentor to tell you what you need to hear, while a friend may tell you what you want to hear. A business coach will focus more on helping you with generic business skills, whereas a mentor’s aim is to teach you based on specific situations they have already had experience with. While I believe a person can serve as both a mentor and coach, you should not expect for the same person to be all of three of these roles – or expect your friend to play the unbiased mentor role.