Developing a Mentoring Relationship
Written by Chukwuma Asala for Gaebler Ventures
The business world is full of people with wisdom and knowledge who wish they could share their knowledg with other people. However, the reality is that most people don't know how to use a mentor or a coach effectively, and so a lot of this wisdom is untouched. It takes work to develop an effective mentoring relationship and this article will touch on some of the key things to focus on when looking for mentorship from someone.
You rarely hear college athletes talk about their college coaches without mixed emotions, especially if they are freshman in college and are not used to having a mentor.
They initially do not like or understand their coaches but as they mature, however, you start to see a growing respect and mutual admiration that develops between the players and their head coach.
This is the very essence of what a mentor is. Their role is to make sure you win in spite of yourself which is never an easy task. In the beginning their standard for excellence makes you uncomfortable around them, but as you rise to that higher expectation a deeper understanding for what they are trying to do occurs.
So your mentor's role is clear, but what about yours? If you are in business and already have a mentor you are way ahead of most people. But developing this relationship to be effective is half the battle. A mentor is only as useful as the mentee makes him. Your role is to create an environment where your mentor can feel comfortable doing what he or she needs to do. Here are some quick tips on how to develop a healthy mentoring relationship.
Seek them out
This is the most important thing you can do in developing this relationship because it is the foundation from which all other things will build on. A mentor must be sought out. This should go without saying but you should want to know what your mentor knows. If you don't want their wisdom then they are not in a mentoring relationship with you.
The famous saying is that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. A mentor will always revel himself when the student shows up, but you must show up as a student. Their role does not involve checking up on you to see how you're doing. It is your responsibility to let them know how well you are making out with whatever business action you are undertaking. I mean after all, in college your professor doesn't give you extra help unless you come into their office. The same thing goes here. Seek them out.
Be in submission to them
To be in submission simply means that you trust that your mentor can and will help you. The word submission has been marked by a lot of negative press recently because it gives the impression that the person in submission is like a slave or helpless. This is actually the total antithesis of the meaning. The person in submission has all the power.
Take for example when you were growing up and you did everything your parents asked you to do. You got everything you wanted because you were submissive. The opposite of submissive is rebellion, and we all know what happened when you rebelled against your parents. Be submissive to your mentor because they will pour out all the wisdom they have on you any chance they get and will make it a point to always give you something you can use right away. They are usually very busy and chances are you are not the only one they serve as a mentor to.
Act on the advice given
To really benefit from knowledge it must be applied. This is important because a mentor can give you wisdom, but he can't make you develop it within yourself. You must do that on your own time. Wisdom is simply knowledge that is applied over and over again which helps connect a certain thought-process for how things should be done. So if you are not taking action on the advice given by your mentor it is really a waste of his or her time and of yours as well.
The most disheartening thing for a mentor is when the student does not grow or does not take action. That is the only way a mentor will experience failure. So as uncomfortable as it may be to take the action steps recommended it is to your benefit that you carry them out. The results of your actions will further boost the respect and admiration shared between the both of you.
The tendency when you are in a relationship with someone who thinks very highly of you and believes in you more than anyone else is that you have a fear of disappointing them. This fear may result in you fabricating the truth of what you may or may not be doing just so you can get positive reinforcement from your mentor. This can be very dangerous. Your mentor cannot counsel a lie properly.
If you are at a roadblock in your business and there's a huge lake that you have to cross but you keep that knowledge to yourself your mentor cannot be effective. If you let him know however that the roadblock is indeed keeping you from moving forward he can help you build a bridge to help cross over to the other side, but he has to know you need a bridge. Be honest, be straightforward and remember all they want is the truth.
Prepare before seeing them
Preparation will make any time you spend together worthwhile and very beneficial. Have a list of questions so you can really leverage their time. Make sure you prepare your mind and ready yourself to hear the truth about what you may be doing wrong. When you come to your mentor make sure you come with your hat in your hand and your sword put away. They will appreciate that you are prepared and this will in turn bring out the best in them as well.
Chukwuma Asala is an international student from Nigeria who is studying to earn an MBA from the State University of New York in Albany. He has analyzed more than 20 industry case studies throughout his education thus far, and hopes to bring some of his business knowledge to Gaebler.com.
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