Have you ever had a problem you were not sure how to resolve? Well, of course, you have. We all face challenges we are not sure how to fix. So, when that happens, what do you do?
Well, that is the question I posed to a student I mentor. They were struggling with their research project. After listening to them explain everything that could not be done to complete the project, I smiled and asked, “so what can you do?”
Of course, they did not have an answer to my question. So, I encouraged them to share how they solved other problems they had faced. Finally, after a moment of reflection, they said, “I could try different strategies to solve the problem, but that may cause more problems.”
Once again, I smiled because now we were making progress. So next, I asked, what strategies? Finally, after sharing several common suggestions, they said, “I could ask someone who has experience in the field.”
I began to clap when they finished. Then, over the next twenty minutes, we discussed who could mentor and help them complete their research project.
Now you may be wondering if I am the student’s mentor, why didn’t I give them the answer? Because my role as a mentor is to help my mentee grow and become the best version of themself! I want my mentee to problem-solve and critically think through issues.
You will face many challenges as a leader, just like my mentee. My question to you how will you respond? Will you struggle using trial and error as a strategy? Who can you contact to help you?
Recently, I was asked to join a panel of leaders to discuss the importance of mentoring. During my conversation with the facilitator, I asked why they picked the topic of mentoring? Because many young leaders do not understand the value of having a mentor.
As I thought about her response, I realized she was right. Over the years, I have mentored and continue to mentor several leaders. But unfortunately, while I encourage every leader to find a mentor, only a handful will follow my advice. Why? Because they did not think they need a mentor until it is too late.
Why is having a mentor crucial to your career success? A highly effective mentor will help build your confidence, expand your skillset, and increase your leadership capacity.
“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”-John C. Crosby
I have been fortunate to have several great mentors throughout my career. However, I still reach out to my mentors for advice, encouragement, and support.
We all need mentors who help us navigate the trials of leadership. While you can succeed without a mentor, you face fewer pitfalls with their support.
Do you have a leader mentoring you?
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