Who is looking after you?
How to find a mentor when you’re the leader.
If you’re the leader of the company, there’s a good chance you serve as mentor or guide to a whole host of people. Your company probably looks to you as a model of behavior, comes to you for advice, and listens to you when you make decisions.
But when you’re looking after others, it can be easy to neglect yourself. Neglecting your own needs can not only have a negative personal impact but also result in you having less clarity, energy and confidence to lead your team.
If you want to lead your company in the best way possible (particularly during this challenging time), consider finding yourself a mentor who can guide and support you while you look after others. A good mentor is someone who knows about your field or position and who you can go to regularly for advice, friendship, insight, wisdom, and more.
The importance of a business mentor
As a leader, it may seem strange to seek out someone who can be a guide. Yet, now more than ever, is a great time to connect with someone who has time, resources, and wisdom to help you navigate upcoming challenges and is interested in supporting your goals.
The best business people, athletes, and performers have mentors or coaches who helped them achieve success and continue to help them grow as they thrive. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has famously talked about her mentor, former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, and how his guidance helped propel her to the career that she has today. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Sandberg explained that her relationship with Summers ‘helped tremendously’ as she navigated a path to leadership and achievement as a woman in a heavily male-dominated field.
Similarly, superstar athletes – like tennis champion Roger Federer – still work with a coach regularly. Federer practices and travels with coach Ivan Ljubicic, even though he has won 103 professional tennis titles and 20 Grand Slam titles.
Coaches can help those who are already outstanding in their field get better. By offering a different perspective and wisdom drawn from experience and expertise that helps leaders thrive and navigate challenging or uncharted new waters.
How to find a mentor as a business leader
If you think you could benefit from a mentor but aren’t sure where to find one, these tips might help.
Look for someone with a different perspective on your industry
Someone in a similar position at a competitor is unlikely to be a candidate for your mentor but a good mentor needs to understand your industry and the challenges you face. It could be someone in a leadership role at a regulatory body, a leader in a complementary field, or someone in a similar business but a totally different role who could offer a different perspective on the industry.
Choose someone you respect
When it comes to mentorship, respect is key as it’s likely you’ll be having challenging and personal conversations with the person you choose. Your mentor doesn’t need to be your hero, but they need to be someone you admire, and they need to have the capacity to inspire you to develop and grow.
Get specific about what you need
If you worry your mentor might not agree to take on the role or you’re approaching someone very busy and don’t want to waste their time, be specific about your needs. Outline the time you’d need and the challenges you’re facing that you think they could help with. If you get concrete with what you need and want from a mentor, the role won’t feel like a burden or additional chore. Instead, they can help you where you really need it, and you can reap the benefits of the relationship without feeling guilt for taking their energy and resources.
Ask your network for recommendations
Ask around your professional network for mentor recommendations. Post about it on a professional social network, on LinkedIn, or send an email to people you trust. Colleagues or friends with prior experience of working with a mentor could also give good recommendations and don’t be afraid to reach out to people you admire to ask if they know suitable candidates in their networks.
As we exit the pandemic, as the economic ramifications become clear, and as we all try re-enter ‘normal’ life, the support and guidance of a mentor could be useful to leaders and their businesses.
Building a strong relationship based on trust, respect and shared interest can benefit you professionally and personally. Helping you to navigate upcoming challenges and helping your business continue to thrive.