So you need a mentor....

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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. 
 


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