Oh dear. Thats how it feels sometimes doesn’t it? Finding a mentor is an exercise in vulnerability and courage. I wonder if that’s why women are not systematically mentored and sponsored? I wonder how leaders can make it easier? I wonder if leaders are aware of the untapped potential of their female workforce due to a lack of mentoring?
Did you know:
- That according to a 2011 Linked In survey of 1,000 women professionals, 80% said having a mentor was important, yet only 20% actually had a mentor?
- That 67% of US women surveyed were still waiting to be asked to be mentored?
- That Deloitte have found that 63% of millennial women want to be mentored, and if they aren’t they are highly likely to leave their employer?
- That my own research tells me that 76% of women say the great coaching and mentoring at work is important to them. Yet 65% of these women do not receive coaching conversations or mentoring from their manager regularly?
- That this same group of women told me that 72% of them had not had a career conversation or mentoring in the past two years?
I don’t think there is any need to spruik the benefits of mentoring, (although if you aren’t convinced, have a read of this or this) however what I can guess (from conversations I’ve had with women I have led, coached or mentored) is that many women don’t feel confident enough to put themselves forward, don’t wish to be seen as needy or pushy, or worse, don’t consider themselves important or worthy enough of a mentor in order to develop their career.
I wonder why women are so hesitant to seek a career mentor?
Having a mentor, or mentors, is important and beneficial. So you should consider making it happen. But I acknowledge that whilst it is relatively easy for me to sit here and type advice about stepping up, leaning in and grabbing life by the you know whats, it’s just not that easy to ask “Will you be my mentor?” I know that senior, successful people (generally speaking) will be willing to share with others by being a mentor, but I accept that it can be a daunting task to pose the question.
Will you be my mentor?
I have had the great fortune to have several awesome mentors over the course of my career. They have been people who were my boss, who became my boss and in some cases, then became my sponsor for career advancement. Having the ability to have someone who can share their wisdom, experience with you and often give you the brutal truths of reality is priceless.
The way you ca go about seeking and securing a mentor is critical. Susan Colantuono gives a great tip. She says that when you simply ask someone to be your mentor, it can be as overwhelming for the mentor as the protege. They are time poor, fully committed individuals. So do yourself a favour and do some of the heavy lifting prior to the conversation. Instead of “Will you be my mentor”….think about these alternatives:
- I admire your approach to xxx, this is an opportunity area for me. Would you considering mentoring me to improve those skills?
- I am working towards my next role in xxx, I would appreciate time with you to understand how you have managed this in your career.
- I would like help with xxx, as someone with expertise/experience/reputation in xxx, would you consider mentoring me on this.
Framing your request this way gives the mentor parameters so they can assess the commitment they need to make, if they can add value to you and if not, an opportunity to provide a recommendation about some who may be a suitable mentor*. In my experience, having a potential protege who is well prepared and has done their research tells me they are committed and ready for mentoring. Contact me for some free tools to help you get ready to be mentored.
*Stay tuned for my article on how to be a great mentor!
I have established group mentoring circles for women at Thrive HQ. My experience as mentor and protegé, leader and learner along with being a woman who has navigated life, love, parenting and career positions me as a great mentor. I’m also a great connector and networker, so I have brought all these attributes together to create a safe space and place for women to access mentoring, peer coaching and leadership development in a dynamic and constructive way.
A Mentoring2Thrive circle will not solve every challenge or deliver your dream job. M2T will extend your network, give you knowledge and help you to really have a crack! Research shows that women are more confident and are able to learn and accomplish lots in small groups. So what are you waiting for?
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Michelle is an astute businesswoman & keen entrepreneur who has founded a business to coach & mentor women of all ages and stages to shatter the glass ceiling & be successful, in whatever way they define success. Founded by a woman, run by women, for women and the organisations that employ women. Michelle is a coach, mentor, consultant, runs events & speaks about her vision to create a gender equal world. Michelle’s business supports, advocates, activates and champions women.
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