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Confidence and courage in mentoring

Mentorship is one of the most compelling assets for professional success. The mentor-mentee relationship offers one of the most priceless of all human qualities — transparency. The mentor offers the mentee hope for the future by sharing both wisdom and past challenges. Mentors help mentees be their best selves by helping them overcome their fears of failure and apprehension of taking risks.

Everyone struggles and gets scared. It takes courage to ask for help. Many of us are afraid to take the risk of being vulnerable. So we pretend to know. In fact, we are often encouraged to “fake it until we make it.” But if we never talk about our challenges and fears openly, we will never get help with those challenges. More importantly, we miss out on key authentic moments. Being fearful about our imperfections and abilities — as well as of the future are all universal human emotions — and it is at the intersection of these authentic moments that we learn, accept, and grow. If we pretend to know it all, no one reaches out to us. When we ask for help and guidance, many hands are extended.

There has been a paradigm shift as to how professional knowledge is passed on. It no longer happens naturally through traditional professional grooming and succession rituals. With greater turnover, less time, lower budgets, and more uncertainty, traditional mentorship models have become nearly obsolete in today’s workplace. This dramatic upheaval in the professional landscape has changed how 21st century professionals can most effectively cultivate career success. Mentorship is more important now than ever before.

Computer industry entrepreneur workshop by Dell's Official Flickr Page. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Computer industry entrepreneur workshop by Dell’s Official Flickr Page. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Some benefits of mentoring are:

  • Enhances career development initiatives
  • Creates a “learning organization”
  • Improved on-boarding and training programs
  • Improved diversity initiatives
  • Improved adjustment to the workplace culture
  • Improved employee engagement & retention
  • Targeted skill and leadership development
  • Can address skills gaps

Mentoring has existed throughout the ages as an effective way to develop talent. More formal mentoring programs comprise structured components, such as training and onboarding programs. These programs are often tied to specific, quantifiable business goals and objectives. There are many new mentoring styles too, including:

  • Reverse mentoring: Senior employees are mentored by junior employees to fill a specific skill gap.
  • Team mentoring: Work teams are mentored by a supervisor.
  • Group mentoring: Groups from within different departments or the same department are mentored by a senior manager
  • Distance mentoring: Mentor-mentee pairs who are working in different locations.

Less formal mentoring relationships are less hierarchical. There is an equal partnership where both parties greatly benefit — and learn — from the relationship.

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