At a recent seminar focussed on women in leadership, the consensus was reached that most successful women rate having a mentor very high in the battle to reach the top. This raises the question: just how many of these mentors were women?

According to the American Psychological Association women do make very good mentors but the unfortunate fact is that there are not very many around. “The women in leadership roles, and who also have family responsibilities, are the psychologists many female students want to emulate,” says Carol Williams, former chair of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS). 

In general, those with the most to give in the form of experience and guidance also seem to be those who have the least time to mentor.

One of the most difficult parts of the coaching/mentoring relationship is finding the right person. First, you have to know what you need. Career guru Richard Bolles suggests making a detailed list of what it takes to succeed in your chosen profession–knowledge, skills (both technical and managerial), personality traits and experience and then list what you already have. This is a simple gap analysis and with help you with your personal development plan too!

Now look for a person who has the attributes you are lacking or feel you have room for improvement in and go after that person as a mentor. That formula however assumes there is a large pool to choose from, which often is not the case. For this reason, your mentor may be a network of mentors rather than a single person.

There are many reasons to have a mentor in your career (and personal life), here are 3:

1. A MENTOR LEADS THE WAY. Often, because they have been there already. 

2. A MENTOR SEES OUR POTENTIAL. Because they no longer feel the need to prove themselves at the expense of thither, they are quick to point your potential out to you

3. A MENTOR ISN’T AFRAID TO ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS. They have been through it before and know that you need to be honest with yourself!

What is the Difference between Coaching and Mentoring?

There are many different definitions, but what is most important is to realise you will need both during you career and lifetime. 

Coaching is focused on an organisation’s key assets – its people – both as individuals and as team members. A coach works with you, using your key performance indicators/technical skills. The focus is on the skill needed to perform your job better. 

A mentor suggests how you hone your business skills and performance, offers solutions and gives analysis and input on how to improve your business acumen. A mentor will bring their own substantial career track record to the table and will utilise this to when discussing good businesses strategy and practice.

You do not always have to do things on your own! Asking someone to be a short-term coach or mentor could bring you so much closer to your career and relationship goals!

By Gizelle McIntyre

Follow & Connect with Gizelle on Sterkla https://app.sterkla.com/coachprofile/298

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