Do I really need a Business Mentor/Coach ? How do I know they are right for me ? – Peter Strohkorb

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We have all heard that even superstars have coaches. Business executives have Mentors who sometimes act as a coach, too. We know that they exist, but how many of us really understand what significant difference a good Mentor/Coach can make for us?

What is a Mentor ?

According to the dictionary, a Mentor is “an experienced and trusted adviser”. Generally speaking, perhaps the greatest value of having a Mentor is as a safe, discrete and unbiased sounding-board for new ideas and concepts.

Mentors offer advice and guidance but leave their mentees the freedom to make their own decisions. If required, Mentors can also motivate their mentees to accomplish important agreed tasks by holding them informally accountable.

Mentors are not meant to make decisions for us, to solve our problems or to address challenges on our behalf. Instead, they support their mentees through personal advice, careful guidance and sometimes bring in new information, insight and knowledge. Mentors are also at times expected to challenge their mentees’ current thinking, to help them to explore contrary view points and to provide intellectual stimulation.

Who has Mentors ?

Everyone. Everyone from politicians to business executives, to sports stars, to small business owners, even parents and teenagers. There are Mentors for all aspects of work and life.

What does a Mentor do for me ?

The answer to this question depends largely on what mentees hope a mentor will help them to achieve. Generally speaking, Mentors help to develop better-considered decision making in business and with personal matters, and with the broadening of horizons through exposure to different perspectives and learnings.

Additionally, Mentors can help to provide clarity on challenges and opportunities in business, career and personal life. This may include guidance on how best to promote our personal brand, independent advice on navigating career options and professional choices, open up access to new networks of peers and influencers, offering options on how to better balance work and personal life.

Mentors can also help their mentees to better understand their own business by identifying hidden issues and helping mentees to realise how they are perceived by their staff, clients, peers, colleagues and superiors. 

Mentors are also useful to help mentees think deeper through issues and to explore alternative perspectives, to explore hidden options, to overcome challenges, and to uncover new opportunities.  

Could having a Mentor be seen as a sign of weakness ?

No. Many famous people have and have had mentors. Having a mentor means that we have realized that there is a limit to our capability and that our own perspective is not always the only one, nor the best one. In fact, not seeking independent advice may be perceived as over-confidence, even arrogance, or a sign of poor aptitude for good judgment.  Inversely, asking for help is perceived as a sign of maturity,  self-awareness, judgement and strength.

Thus, having a mentor is really a sign of strength, not of weakness.

Who else says that having a Mentor is a good thing ?

There are real personal and business benefits to having a Mentor. This is further evidenced in research carried out by Sun Microsystems over a 5 year period with approximately 1,000 employees. 
The research showed that mentees are promoted faster and more often than other co-workers, and that they are more likely to receive a salary increase than those without Mentors.

Here is a quote from the research:
“Mentoring increases effectiveness and efficiency to achieve business results by doing real work, real time. Developing a corporate culture of mentoring is a good way to establish a network of communication across organizational silos, promote a wide variety of talents, and broaden the diversity of ideas and innovation available to the company. The ROI on Sun mentoring has been calculated to be 1,000 percent, or greater.”

  • Both Mentors and mentees were approximately 20% more likely to receive a salary increase than those people who did not participate in the mentoring program
  • 25% of mentees and 28% of mentors received a salary raise, versus only 5% of the others
  • Mentees were promoted FIVE times more often than people who did not have mentors
  • Mentors were SIX times more likely to be promoted

Are there downsides to having a Mentor ?

Being mentored requires an investment in time and money. However,  more often than not, the personal, financial and business benefits of a Mentor far outweigh this investment.
Also, it is important to find a Mentor who is a good fit from both a personal and professional perspective. 

Any more advice ?

A mentoring program is not a quick fix. It works best if there is a personal commitment to ongoing improvement.  

Further, choosing a Mentor is an intensely personal matter and should be undertaken with great care. 
Reputable Mentors often offer a try before you buy’ session so that mentees can form their own opinion on the suitability of their chosen Mentor before committing to their mentoring program.

Lastly, the best thing to do is to grab the bull by the horns and to experience being mentored hands on. Who knows, you may discover options and opportunities that you don’t even know you have.

Source: Total Exec feeds