I am asked on numerous occasions to respond to questions regarding mentoring, mentoring process and how mentoring can bring value to individuals and/or organizations. Here are some of those questions and my responses.
Q: What are some good ways for a small business entrepreneur to find a mentor? I am currently in the process of expanding my handmade business into wholesale.
A: Check to see if there are any incubators that work with small business entrepreneurs and if they provide mentoring as part of their service. Some include mentoring in their fee structure and some have it as an add on. I have also seen some cases where it is mandatory that mentoring be used.
You can also do some searches via Google to see if there are any associations that provide mentoring. I have seen some of the mentor software programs that have created a mentoring community and a data base of people wanting to mentor.
Make sure that you choose wisely when selecting a mentor. Ideally your mentor should have some form of training in order for you to get the biggest ROI for mentoring.
They don’t have to be from your industry - it is a nice to have but not a need to have. I am mentoring a number of different people and they are from industries that I do not have any experience in.
Q: If one of the top career mistakes is staying in a job too long, how do you know when it's best to find a new job?
A: One tell-tale sign is that it becomes a chore to get out of bed in the morning and go to work. You have become very negative about all thins - including your personal life. You bring home the negativity to an environment that is typically very positive. I have also seen where your productivity and quality of your work begins to decline to the point of you becoming toxic. When I am working with people in a mentoring relationship we touch on these elements and more especially when I sense that we have reached that crossroads. If the culture of the organization is not in alignment with your values it may well be time to move on.
Q: What can women do to have better representation within management and board level positions?
A: An interesting question and timely as I am doing research on this very topic and also exploring male vs female mentors - is there a difference, etc?
What I have seen is that mentoring can assist in providing tools that women need to move forward and assume roles in management or at the board table. Typically a women that is in that position has a male mentor or attempts to acquire a male mentor. There are some male mentors that are reluctant to mentor a women. Research is using the #metoo movement as a reason.
What I have done with one of my female mentees is to recommend having a male mentor and a female mentor - especially someone that has been on the journey to advance in leadership roles and acquire a board table seat.
Bottom line is that mentoring does help - you can leverage the full power of mentoring with a male and female mentoring team.
Q: Who is more effective, a Positive Leader or a Negative Leader?
A: A positive leader would be more effective. Ask yourself who you would rather work with - someone that is positive or someone that is negative. Think of the impact that a leader has on the culture of the organization. Would you want that to be positive or would you want that to be negative.
One thing to remember is that if you are working with a negative leader you need to observe the characteristics that you do not want. It was suggested to me a long time ago that, “you will work with many bosses over the course of your career. Learn to pick the good characteristics - characteristics that you want to emulate and keep those. Learn to recognize the characteristics that you do not want and cast them aside.”
Whether the situation is driven by positivity or negativity there is always something to learn.
Q: Are all 'soft skills' just interpersonal skills? If so, why don't people just call them that?
A: I think the term “soft skills” is one that is over used and with us not fully understanding what it means.
I am more inclined to use the term “essential skills”. I work with leaders and managers at all levels of organizations and what typically needs addressing are their essential skills. Technically they may be very strong but when it comes to working with others, communicating effectively, motivating and inspiring there is always room for improvement.
One thing I have noticed is that we have lost the art of communicating effectively. As a result there is more organizational turmoil and it is typically attributed to the lack of communicating effectively.
Q: If so much material is written about leadership, why are there so few real leaders in companies?
A: There is a global leadership talent shortage today. Check out the article on this site for more information: Are You Ready for the Leadership Shortage?
61% of the companies surveyed do not offer any leadership training - so we are setting people up to fail. What is also critical is to provide mentoring as part of the leadership development program. Sadly this is a process that can and will make a difference but it has to be implemented. Mentors need to be training. The organization from the top down has to recognize that leadership development is a priority.
Provide people with the tools to be successful - don’t set them up for failure. Don’t miss out on opportunities because you have not provided the training and mentoring for your leaders.
Q: Is it normal to only want mentors as my only circle of friends?
A: What this signals to me is that you have challenges with trust. A great mentor focuses on building a trusted relationship which explains you only wanting mentors in your inner circle/circle of friends. Your mentor(s) are filling a void.
Talk with your current mentor(s) to have them work with you to step outside that comfort zone and to build more relationships outside of your mentor(s). Focus on how to build trust and how to receive it from someone else.
The lack of trust will also have an impact on your professional life if it has not already done so. We need to address these personal growth challenges so that they do not become an obstacle to moving forward professionally.
Doug Lawrence is an extraordinary mentor and mentor certification trainer with TalentC and is the International Mentoring Community Director of Education.
Doug shows organizations how mentoring programs will influence a happy workforce culture (mentors), improve employee productivity (mentees), reducing costly employee high turnover (on-boarding), improves the bottom line (organizations), which saves 150% to 200% of the annual salary of each departing employee. He provides one-on-one direct mentoring for individuals and groups, all backgrounds and industries locally and internationally.
Doug is an International Certified Mentor Practitioner (ICMP), an International Certified Mentor Facilitator (ICMF), and has obtained his Certificate of Achievement – Mentoring and his Certificate of Competence – Mentor from the International Mentoring Community (IMC).
Doug is recognized as a “Most viewed writer in the Business Mentoring and Mentors and Mentoring categories on the Quora website (www.quora.com).
An international speaker and author of The Gift of Mentoring (2014), Doug’s second book is set to publish in late 2019.
Do you have a workplace crisis or issue to resolve? Schedule a time to meet with Doug: https://calendly.com/doug-lawrence