‘A brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction’ – that’s what mentors are for. Here are 4 types of mentors that will help you navigate through the complex – and sometimes treacherous – path of life.
For Bill Gates, there was Warren Buffet; for Yves Saint-Laurent, there was Christian Dior; and for Harry Potter, well, there was Dumbledore. Throughout the ages, mentors have played pivotal roles in some of the world’s most notable success stories, from finance and technology to fashion and even fiction. Offering personalised support and a wealth of knowledge and experience that act as fuel for motivation, a trusted mentor can put the wind in your sails when you thought there was no more wind to be had, enhancing your chances for success in business astronomically.
The Role of Mentors
As a constant battle against the odds, the entrepreneurial journey is – without exception – no easy feat. From making important career decisions to fostering crucial business relationships, a mentor can make all the difference in success and failure for fledgling startups. As experienced veterans, mentors have amassed years worth of mistakes and life-lessons which can be bestowed upon you as their mentee. It’s a relationship founded on grounds of mutual trust and respect. Aside from offering technical expertise, mentors can be incredible support systems – dispelling seeds of self-doubt and enabling you to see beyond your sphere of influence.
Think of it like running a business – these 4 mentors will essentially become your personal board of advisors – supporting you, and helping you elevate your vision to reality.
Fulfilling the traditional mentoring role, career mentors provide relevant knowledge and insight, whilst expanding your professional networking opportunities. In finding prospective career mentors, look for someone older who’s been in the same shoes, worked in the same professional field, and who has faced similar hardships. Although entrepreneurs tend to trust their own gut instincts, impulsive reactions can almost certainly benefit from the honing eyes and experiences of another. From workplace conflicts to career-changing decisions, mentors can offer advice to help you better evaluate your options. It’s an invaluable asset that can’t be bought – and crucial for success in today’s market.
Some of the most unpredictable and difficult obstacles to overcome in life have nothing to do with profession. Catering to a wider breadth of situations, life mentors typically operate away from workplace environments, guiding mentees through developmental or personal dilemmas. They can lend an objective mind when tackling problems relating to complex integrations between professional and personal life, and help mentees come to their own conclusions in making important decisions. Unlike career mentors, a life mentor is not hierarchically superior. The most important thing in finding a suitable life mentor is the foundation of trust – someone you can openly communicate with and whose opinion you truly value.
Relaxing the rigidity of conventional mentorships, peer mentors are typically associates of a similar age, with a much less profound difference in life experience than the traditional mentors. In this sense, a peer mentor largely resembles you, and is able to relate to the hardships encountered both in and out of the workplace. As your peer, they are approachable and can be reached more readily without the same formalities. Finding an effective peer mentor can be hard, and is usually a friend who you trust to facilitate thoughtful decisions, provide useful insight, and ultimately, a positive influence who pushes you to be the best version of yourself.
Credited to former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch popularised the concept of reverse mentoring in hopes that senior executives at his company would benefit from learning about the use of advanced technology. By appointing a junior employee to act as a mentor to senior veterans, the traditional structures of hierarchy are flipped, closing the generational gap in knowledge. Whilst mentors still benefit from gaining useful connections and industry insight, it’s largely reciprocated through fresh reconsideration of leadership styles and business strategies that are better suited to the modern age of technology. Benefits of reverse mentoring are widely recognised, with leading companies such as KPMG, Fidelity, and Coca Cola implementing the scheme as part of their company culture.
Great mentorships are premised on mutual aspirations for success – but it all starts with us taking that first step in seeking out these mentors to propel you in life.