“You have to believe it’s possible and believe in yourself. Because after you’ve decided what you want, you have to believe it’s possible, and possible for you, not just for other people. Then you need to seek out models, mentors, and coaches.” Jack Canfield
This is a guest post by Patt Hardie, Leadership and Talent Management Expert. It is the companion to the August 14, 2018 Voice of America interview with Maria Urani, CIO of Netjets of Columbus, Ohio, aired on VoiceAmerica, “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations”: A CIO Story of Leadership: Maria Urani – Netjets
Having a mentor can be invaluable to someone’s career in providing guidance, teaching what’s important, encouraging risk taking, providing meaningful opportunities for growth and visibility, and challenging existing perspectives. Just ask anyone who’s been fortunate enough to have one. Maria Urani, CIO of Netjets is one of those lucky people who has benefitted from multiple mentors throughout her career, and it has served her well. Throughout her leadership journey, she has viewed mentoring less traditionally than most: sought out senior leaders as mentors early in career, participates in reverse mentoring where she is mentored from a junior colleague or they co-mentor one another, and often engages in ‘virtual mentoring’ through LinkedIn.
Many professionals still have a narrower view of mentoring perceiving it as a 1-1 long-term relationship with a senior leader of the organization, initiated and driven by that leader. Careers stall because people assume that they have to be asked or they can’t ask someone senior to them for mentoring; or if they aren’t ‘tapped’ for a high-potential formal program, they can’t have a mentor. Many people are relatively unfamiliar with mentoring and the significant impact it makes on career success. While the 1-1 mentoring model is still alive and well, the belief that it is the only means to be mentored couldn’t be further from the truth! Mentoring opportunities abound that are easily accessible and available, to anyone who is motivated. Some you are familiar with, some you may not have thought about as mentoring. So, we offer the following ideas for you to consider as you think about what would best support your career success:
- Virtual Mentoring: Consider mentoring with someone you may or may never meet, yet have skills, perspectives, tools, resources you need or may have an interest in. Virtual mentors are people you don’t know and through their work you can learn and grow:
- LinkedIn Influencers: You can follow anyone on LinkedIn. Many are experts in their field and publish articles on a regular basis. Many are not experts yet have points of view that make you think, provide tools, or forward articles of interest. You can also check out someone’s website if they have one for additional resources. If you want to build a relationship, of course, you can connect with them. Find some that will support your learning and development goals and use them as mentors!
- YouTube/Ted Talks/Podcasts/Books/Blogs/Websites: Same concept as LinkedIn, you can follow someone across mediums, or you can curate specific topics through various mediums and have various mentors. Keep a list. You will be surprised how quickly your learning grows.
- Observing Others: Learning from those we see within projects, within teams, in professional meetings, or other opportunities where we lead or interact with others. Intentional learning can occur anywhere at any time.
- Personal Board of Directors: This approach to mentoring emphasizes a deliberate strategy of selecting a diverse group of people that you go to for support and advice on advancing your career. Ideally, they are people who have a strong personal and professional interest in seeing you succeed and have different perspectives based on their relationship to you, and their role. This isn’t a group that ever meets around a conference table –– it’s just five to seven carefully selected individuals that you can rely on to strategize with you as you navigate the twists and turns in your career. There are multiple articles on the internet, including Hire a Personal Board of Directors, providing clarity on the purpose of a board, who to consider, how to invite, do’s and don’ts and getting the most from your board.
- Mentoring Circles/Master Mind Groups/Peer Coaching: Some organizations are forming groups of peers who facilitate sessions to mentor each other on topics of interest. Peers can also self-organize around specific business needs, skills, interests, and other issues to mentor each other. This is becoming a popular mentoring approach because it is simple, takes minimal time and serves the needs of several individuals collectively. Sometimes it is sponsored by a senior leader who can be a mentor to the group as well providing multiple layers of mentorship. There are numerous articles on the internet providing more details on this topic such as Mentoring Circles, A New Spin on a Timeless Learning Technique.
- 1-1 Mentoring with a Senior Leader: Chris Myers, CEO and Cofounder of BodeTree and a Partner in BT Ventures talks about how invaluable his mentors have been in his career in a Forbes article entitled Mentorship is Key to Career Success for Young Professionals. Additionally, he shares his top three lessons he learned about mentorship that has helped him find career success.
- Lesson 1. Don’t be afraid to seek out mentorships.
- Lesson 2. Learn to recognize the accelerators in your life
- Lesson 3. Remember that mentorship is a two-way street.
Finally, he states “I firmly believe that mentorship is the best path to career success, hands down. The benefits that you can gain from a good mentor relationship can outweigh grad school, natural ability, and even dumb luck. The key is to have the foresight and humility to ask to be mentored.”
So, where do you start? Everyone will be different, yet you need to ask yourself:
- What do you need to learn? What are your interests?
- What commitment are you willing to make?
- How much time can you commit?
- Of which of the mentoring options are you most interested? How will you implement it?
Maria Urani said it best when she said, there are no excuses if you want to learn and grow…. there no such word as can’t! Mentoring is for everyone. Take advantage of opportunities and if you haven’t already, get started now. You will be so glad you did.
As a reader of this blog and listener to the interviews, please consider enrolling in one of the innovative leadership online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching through our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.
About the Author
Patt Hardie, Principal and Founder of The Hardie Group LLC, and works with Metcalf & Associates. She has 30 years of business experience across healthcare, chemical, utility, contract research and retail industries as an expert leadership consultant, coach, and advisor. Patt delivers impactful, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership / team development and organizational challenges. She is recognized as a collaborative partner and progressive thought-leader who can connect with the business and synthesize needs into successful strategies for sustainable results.