How Building a Team of Mentors Can Position You For Success
Mentors are all the rage these days and for good reason. They are invaluable when it comes to making career or life decisions, navigating tough situations, and setting your goals. But many successful people will tell you that there’s no such thing as a single, perfect, mentor. Rather, it’s important to have an array of mentors on whom you can lean as your career, passions, and life evolves. Here’s why:
Change. It’s no secret that throughout the course of a mentor/protégé relationship both you and your mentor will change, maybe even drastically. While your career goals and interests may align now, it’s very possible that one of you may take your life in a totally different direction. That doesn’t mean that the relationship should end, but the type of guidance that you need and the type of advice that your mentor can provide could eventually diverge and it’s important to have a backup plan (or other mentors) to call on when you need them.
Perspective. If you’re facing a critical decision with lots of complexity, having a team of mentors is a huge advantage that allows you to draw from many different perspectives and experiences. I found this extremely valuable when deciding whether to apply to MBA programs. I spoke with many mentors, some who had MBAs, others who didn’t, but each had a unique perspective to offer. While the decision was mine and mine alone, I can’t emphasize enough the value of gathering so many different insights.
Expertise. Throughout your life, you are going to have a wide range of development needs. By having more than one mentor, you have the benefit of tapping into a variety of expertise at any single point in time. Personally, I have different mentors for different things: mentors who help me navigate my management consulting career, mentors who guide me when it comes to the health care industry, and even blogging mentors. By formulating your own team of mentors, you can best position yourself for success across a broader set of goals.
So now, you are probably thinking, “that sounds great and all, but how exactly do I find my team of mentors?” The worst thing that you can do is go up to someone and ask, “Hey! I want your job. Will you be my mentor?” Instead, mentor/protégé relationships should form organically. When thinking about who my mentors are, I like to ask three questions: 1) Is this person someone that is at least five steps ahead of me in my career? 2) Is this person someone who understands me on a professional and personal level? 3) Is this person willing or interested in being my mentor?
Recognizing that there is no one size fits all solution will not only help you build your team of mentors, but also allow you to be an understanding mentor to a protégé of your own someday.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: LISA FOLLMUTH
I am the founder and author of Strum Simmer Sip – a lifestyle blog dedicated to those who share a penchant for great food, music, and life experiences. A foodie and musician myself, my goal is to help inspire others to live healthy, productive, and positive lives. A California native at heart, I was born and raised in Long Beach and educated at UC San Diego. After receiving my undergraduate degree in Management Science, I moved to San Francisco to launch my professional career in healthcare consulting at Deloitte Consulting, LLP. Currently, I am pursuing a full-time MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.