In recent years, or at least during the time I’ve entered and played in the professional world, mentor has become a buzzword. To follow up on last week’s post on leadership, it should come as no surprise that this topic is next on my list. Consider for a moment the folks you admire. The individuals you deem respectable. Do you ever wonder how they came to be an effective communicator or leader? Who helped them along the way? They might tell you the same thing. They had mentors.
Before I started sipping the lemonade, I was too shy to ask about mentors much less than anything else. I didn’t know where to start. How to find them. Psst, yes, it’s okay to have more than one mentor. In all sincerity, it’s a smart move. To get started, you must do your own research. Secondly, ask around and connect with people you admire. During this process, you might ask yourself, what kind of mentors are out there? How do I know which are right for me? Dr. Caela Farren answers those questions and more in “Eight Types of Mentors: Which Ones Do You Need?”
Similar to Dr. Farren, I have mentorship buckets to fuel those passions and areas of life that are significant to me: career, marriage, parenthood, running, self-help, and writing. One gift among many I received from a leadership mentoring program sponsored by the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives (NAHFE), from which I graduated last December, was a small pocket-sized book entitled “Mentoring 101 What Every Leader Needs to Know.” In this book, John C. Maxwell, asserts: “Mentoring leaders understand that it takes one to know one, show one, and grow one.” Moreover, Maxwell uses “the BEST acronym as a reminder of what people need [from him]…
Believe in them
Share with them
In order to create the right environments, Maxwell firmly believes that “the BEST mentoring leaders are encouragers.”
Another jewel I received from NAHFE, besides gaining an awesome mentor, was this notion of forming my own roundtable which Dr. Farren refers to as building your own board of directors in her article. Who is at your table? Who is missing from your table? Who do you wish was at your table? For example, when I was training for the New York City marathon last year, I joined a first time marathon training program and sought peer mentorship and sound guidance from friends like Dr. Gloria González, an experienced athlete and seasoned federal leader in her own right. During many of our long, practice runs together, Gloria and I talked about anything and everything ranging from our paths as first-generation college students to career women.
What I have learned about mentoring through the years is that both mentors and mentees alike have equally important roles. Further, mentoring is only effective if it is truly two-way. I look forward to my bi-weekly teleconferences because my mentor cares enough about me and values my opinions just as much as I do hers.
If you haven’t found a mentor yet or need to fill vacancies on your board, look at organizations and their founders whose personal missions align with your own. Don’t get caught up on this idea that mentoring has to be face-to-face either. I’ve met some incredible people via Latinas Think Big®, an online, innovative career platform and network whose founder, for whom I’ll be eternally grateful, published my first article and continues to encourage my writing.
Finally, be kind. When you’ve found success and are firmly grounded, consider giving back. Pay it forward and help others get to the next level. Be the person who helped you achieve your career and personal goals. Don’t forget that like any strong relationship, mentoring will thrive despite distance and time so long as you work to sustain it.
Disclaimer: The opinions, references, and views expressed in this post are those of the guest blogger and do not reflect the official policy or position of the agency where she is currently employed.
Yesenia Flores Díaz is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.