Most us of hesitate to become a mentor.
Mentoring can be a scary word. It has the perception that it’s hard and you won’t benefit from it. As a potential mentor, you can easily come up with excuses for not being a mentor like:
- I don’t have anything to offer a mentee
- I haven’t accomplished anything incredible
- I don’t have time to be a mentor
We all think that in a mentoring relationship, a mentee benefits the most. That’s a myth. I’ll debunk that myth in this story.
First, let’s define mentorship.
What is mentorship?
Mentorship is a relationship where a more experienced or knowledgeable person guides a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. Mentors help their protégés solve problems and encourage them to become better at their jobs.
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”
— Oprah Winfrey, an American talk show host
Why it’s tough to find mentors
Many organizations don’t have a problem recruiting mentees.
Finding mentors, however, can be problematic. One of the reasons is a lot of research has been focused on the benefits to protégés, not the mentors. A second reason is that leaders can get stuck in their ways and don’t seek out new perspectives. The last reason is that most people don’t realize mentoring improves their leadership skills.
Finding mentors is a problem but it shouldn’t be.
New mentor research
Research shows mentors gain leadership skills by providing mentoring support.
Researchers created an eight-month mentoring program for Ph.D. students. Senior Ph.D. students were assigned to first-year Ph.D. students. The research showed that the more mentors provided mentoring support, the more they saw themselves as leaders, and the more confident they became in leading a project.
Mentorship and leadership go hand in hand
To become a leader, you need to become a mentor.
Staying humble. Being vulnerable. Admitting you don’t have it all figured out. These are all traits that make up a good leader and a good mentor.
When I started as a mentor for the Triangle chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA), I didn’t realize how much mentoring would help me with my leadership skills.
I was initially hesitant but I’m glad I signed up. I was able to support a future marketing leader and I learned how to become a better leader.
Bringing it all together
If you want to be a leader or enhance your leadership skills, you should become a mentor. Don’t shy away from it because it may seem difficult. You’ll gain more than you think. Don’t fall for the mentorship myth.
Mentoring pays off as much for mentors as it does for mentees.