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Are They The One? 3 Key Elements to Look for In A Mentor

Updated: May 14, 2023

Let’s get to it: Lady, you need a mentor. If you want to develop and grow in your corporate career, mentorship is a crucial element. As a recipient of the The President’s Award in my organization three times, I can tell you that the power of mentorship was a key factor in my development in my career.

You may have the tools or even the path that will lead you to success, but a mentor has been where you are and will be able to assist you with any hurdles that you weren’t anticipating. They will be able to guide and support you through your journey because, as a woman with a 20+ year career in corporate America, I can tell you that it can get difficult.

As a black female working in a white male-dominated industry, intention was not enough. I had to be strategic and part of that strategy was to get a mentor that would help me strategize tactics for my career goals. I had a mentor who was a good example of navigating corporate politics. He showed me how to handle disagreements with class and not take these disagreements personally.

“Tamara, I understand the benefit of having a mentor, but how can I determine if I’ve found the right one?”

Not every person with experience can be called a good mentor. A good mentor not only has experience, but they challenge you, encourage you, and has an eagle eye. They can walk you through things you didn’t see coming and can lead you away from difficult experiences they’ve learned the hard way. There are three main factors that I want to teach you to look for in a mentor. Let’s get started.

1. Career Development Guidance and Advice

This may seem obvious, but your mentor should have the relevant background experience to guide you and advise you confidently. Your mentor should have a unique perspective on the corporate landscape and can lend their experience and knowledge to help guide you. They will help you develop your career roadmap. As opportunities present themselves, talk to your mentor and discuss if that opportunity is a good fit for you.

Action Step: Invite your mentor into your world, Let them see firsthand how you operate, which will inform them about areas where development may be needed.

2. Skill Assessment and Development

Working with your mentor will open up an opportunity to assess your current skill sets, in comparison to the skill sets needed to land your next career opportunity. This person will help identify critical skills for potential future roles, as well as current blindspots. Taking old skills into new seasons is a sure-fire way to hinder your progress up the corporate ladder, or possibly end it altogether.

Action Step: Come together with your mentor to take an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have a full inventory, create an action plan where you take deliberate steps to develop and close any gaps.

3. Network Expansion

Mentors have connections. If your mentor isn’t connecting you with other colleagues or associates that you didn’t think to network with, you might want to make that request of your mentor. These will be well-rounded connections that are not just in your area of work, but across other functional areas. The connections could benefit you in the future by providing a potential corporate collaboration or even a future job lead.

Action Step: Leverage your mentor to make introductions and invite you into rooms you may not otherwise have been in. Getting out of your comfort zone will lead you into a brand new network that your future self will thank you for.

In today’s society, there are a plethora of resources to learn from including YouTube videos, books, and websites, but none of these resources can provide you with the experience and conviction of a mentor. By establishing guidance from collective years of experience, developing your current skills and exposing blind spots, and expanding your network, you will have an unprecedented edge over others in your career development. Your metamorphosis is a journey that I’d love to be a part of! I’m inviting you to join my mentoring cohort where we will tackle what has been mentioned above and more. Click here to get started on your new journey!

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