So you need a mentor....
I've been inspired and encouraged by a recent Lean In campaign on mentorship - MentorHer. This is targeted at increasing male mentorship for women. Their data points illustrate that women get less mentorship than men. "Women are 24% less likely than men to get advice from senior leaders" and if you are a woman of colour that situation will only get worse.
As a nurse, a female nominated profession, I have naturally gravitated to female mentors throughout my career. I have also been fortunate to work alongside some men who have helped shape my career and provided opportunities for new challenges and growth. I have often sought and welcomed the advice of a senior colleague I admire and respected. As my career developed and I faced increasing challenges that advice, sounding board and encouragement have been essential for me. It never occurred to me that not having a mentor (in fact a whole team of them) was an option. As this article explains all leaders need mentors.
Mentorship is defined by the Harvard Business review as:
Mentoring is the offering of advice, information, or guidance by a person with useful experience, skills or expertise for another individual’s personal and professional development
So the first question for you is - who are your mentors for where you are at right now?
Finding a mentor can be a curious process, while it can occur naturally sometimes you might find yourselves looking around and searching. When I have reflected back I have realised people have been where I have needed them and I didn't even realise it at the time. If you are struggling to identify a mentor there is some advice here and here .
Now you have someone in mind, what next? This post is a practical guide for preparing for a meeting with your mentor and to get the best out of it.
As much I have made the most of mentors and continue to do so, when I think back I have also been a mentor for others along the way. This is an important a role that we must step into as leaders in healthcare.
Second question then - who are you a mentor to?
I have to be honest when people come to me for advice or mentorship I take that metaphorical look over my shoulder thinking that they must mean someone else. I still have so much to learn and feel like a beginner most of the time. I am learning to step into and own my experience, skills and knowledge while maintaining the mindset of a beginner so I stay open to change. I love bringing out the best in others and I find I learn a lot from mentoring others. I consider the time a wise and worthwhile investment both on a personal level, for the organisation and healthcare a whole. This article points to the value of taking the time to be a mentor.
First time mentor? Here is some advice and this list of 6 things every mentor should do will give you some more ideas.
Rather than wait for the somewhat haphazard updating of this blog you can sign up for my very regular weekly email. Fresh topics, stories and resources every week. There is also a section of email extras - additional links to save you the work of finding useful information. As a sneak peak here are the Email Extras for the topic of mentorship