You worked hard to get your degree. You also studied hard to get your credentials. But now you’d like to move up the ladder, perhaps to a supervisory or management position. A mentor can help you avoid the potential “landmines” that can derail your upward climb. Caroline Dowd-Higgins, career coach and author of “This is not the career I ordered,” explains why you need a mentor/sponsor in this brief but informative video. Here are five additional reasons:
1. It’s What They Know
An experienced mentor has been there and done that. He or she knows what it takes to succeed in your field. They know who to talk to, the types of people to avoid, when to spout an opinion and when to just shut up and listen. They’re familiar with the politics and “inside moves” it takes to advance. That’s why they’ve achieved the success you so dearly covet. They’ve been on top or close to it and can provide a panoramic view of the corporate landscape.
2. It’s Who They Know
A good mentor knows lots of people in your company. People who can give you the plum, high visibility assignments, the tasks that showcase your talents and abilities to senior management. The right mentor can also show you which tasks not to take on, tasks that have low visibility and a high probability of failure—regardless of your effort or talent. These “do nothing” tasks, e.g., re-designing timesheets or report formats—can drain you of energy, they often generate a lot of heat (contention around you) but very little light to illuminate your talents and management skills. Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., educator, author and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, notes that a mentor can help you navigate the company culture and politics, and help you identify an organization's key players.
3. Steering Your Skills
The right mentor can help expand your skill sets in the right direction, helping to match your ultimate career goals to your personal drive and inherent talents. If you have a natural gift for giving presentations or show promise as a negotiator who can diffuse conflicts, a mentor can help you hone those skills to senior management levels. If you’ve demonstrated some leadership ability that shows people like to follow you, a mentor can help you enhance that natural talent. Once developed, a mentor can steer you in the right direction, grooming you for the next rung up the ladder. Ivo Lukas Founder/CEO, 24Notion; COO, Girls in Tech notes that mentorship helps support and retain women in STEM fields, which is just as important as getting a "foot in the door."
4. Picking Your Battles
A skilled mentor can also help you pick your battles and prepare you to win if you’re fighting for visibility or competing with someone else in your organization. Sun Tzu’s Art of War says all battles are fought before they are won. Mentors can arm you for these critical battles to come, a battle he or she may have successfully waged in the past.
5. A Shoulder to Lean (or Cry) On
A dedicated mentor can provide the emotional support and attaboys you need when times get tough. They’re with you for the long haul to keep you motivated and on target. The right mentor will remain a close friend and colleague throughout your career.
Career not moving fast enough or in the right direction? Time to find a mentor to put you on the fast track.
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