When it comes to personal and professional development, leaders everywhere agree on one thing: Mentorship is critical. If you want to grow as a leader, you have to surround yourself with people who have been there before, people who are willing to invest in your success. But how do you go about finding the right mentors to support your growth? With whom can you connect, or reconnect, with that would be able to help take your leadership to the next level?
If you’re searching for someone to guide you on your leadership journey, here’s how you can start looking for a great mentor:
Who Will Tell You the Hard Truths?
Many leaders get derailed because they have no one honest enough to help redirect their lives. Even for the most experienced leaders, it’s incredibly hard to tell people what they don’t want to hear. But the truth is, we can never surpass our own successes if we don’t face the uncomfortable facts that are holding us back. Usually, these hard truths exist in our blind spots; they’re the things we just can’t see on our own. Great leaders are marked by an openness to hearing hard truths and a willingness to act upon them thoughtfully.
However, great mentors are not just people who are willing to deliver hard truths, but the people who care about you enough to deliver hard truths with compassion, with your best interests in mind. There is a right way to approach these conversations and a wrong way. The most important part of a mentor/mentee relationship is trust. Who do you trust to tell you what you need to hear to improve? Who do you trust to care about you as a person as well? A good mentor needs to be able to do both.
Gather Diverse Perspectives
Leaders thrive when they have access to the best information and advice. In your workplace, you assemble a team of specialists who pool their talents to achieve success together. In the same way, your leadership relies on assembling a team of specialist mentors who can help you in all of the areas that are important to your growth. I call this approach, building a “Personal Board of Directors.” Just like hiring new team members, be intentional about whom you bring onto your mentorship team. Surround yourself with people you know you can learn from, even if that means looking outside the box. You can find mentors everywhere, and you don’t have to formalize the relationship. Recognize who the experts are. Who do you know that is a relationship-building expert? A communications expert? A creative dynamo? Assemble the dream team and soak up as much knowledge as you can.
Who are the Mentors You Already Know?
We’ve all had people in our lives who have believed in us and opened our eyes to our own potential. Take a walk through your life’s journey up to this point. Who has played a pivotal role in your development?
If you haven’t already, re-examine the lessons, you’ve learned from your past mentors. What did they teach you about the world? How did they inspire you to be your best self?
If you still can, I encourage you to reconnect with the great mentors in your life. You don’t have to call them up and beg to get coffee after all these years; all you have to do is send them a note of gratitude. Tell them how much you appreciate their support and tell them just how much their mentorship has impacted your life. I guarantee this will be news they will be overjoyed to hear. And it just might open the door for you to learn even more from this mentor, but at the very least, you will make their day—maybe their whole month.