Having a mentor is like having a good friend by your side helping you through the sticks and stones of life. Except a mentor is not really a friend – a mentor is there to guide you to the best you can be, to help you achieve greater self-awareness, clarify attainable goals, and keep you motivated through the obstacles that so often come along life’s path.

So, no, a mentor is not a friend; he or she is something more valuable than that. A mentor can offer you genuine and honest appraisal. A mentor’s role is to help you overcome doubts in a positive way, but also with the practicality in mind of improving yourself and your future, both personally and professionally. As such a mentor is not just a shoulder to lean on – a mentor is in fact, critical to the growth and the trajectory of your career.

How a mentor works with you

A mentor helps you to stay focused on your career
A mentor’s focus is your focus – helping you to gain confidence, and attain goals. It’s like taking a journey of self-discovery, but with someone by your side to lead the way and clear the path. Their aim is to ensure you grow professionally and reach the career success you would like.

Mentors know the importance of setting goals
But not just any goals; goals that are sensible and suitable and specific. Setting goals that may be initially out of one’s depth is one of the reasons people fail, and then suffer the consequent feelings of failure. A mentor can set goals for you in consultation with you, but he or she will ensure that they are measurable, achievable and relevant. Mentors and goal-setting have proven vital to employee development.

A key function is to hold you accountable for achieving your goals
Mentors help you by creating small steps to reach goals methodically and surely. Without goals, you have no direction and no plan to get where you (and the mentor) want to go. A mentor’s role is to keep you on track and motivated.

A mentor can help you acclimatise in a new work environment
Many companies provide mentors to assist newcomers joining the staff – and their role is vital in assisting people to settle in to their new roles, teaching them the rules and emphasizing the opportunities.

Mentorships help you to develop leadership qualities
For leadership positions, you are going to need to nurture certain skills, such as good listening abilities, empathy, self-awareness, team-spirit, and sound communication capability.

Mentorship is by definition a close relationship
Mentorship means developing a close relationship with one or more people, and this new relationship helps you to become more self-sufficient, but also helps you to negotiate support from others when needed.

Key to a mentor’s ability to help
Simple – it lies in the valuable experience and knowledge they hold, and which they themselves have had to work for over many years. From this vantage point, they are able to help you identify your skills, and recommend what kind of training would help you take your career to new heights. Mentors can consolidate their natural know-how with relevant courses and constant practice of their skills.

With a mentor by your side, you are able to:

  • nurture a strong work ethic
  • develop a motivating vision
  • keep on track and on target at all times
  • change bad habits and introduce more positive ways of thinking
  • expand your professional network through introduction via the mentor to people of good standing and like-minded thinking
  • solve problems more efficiently, understanding possible solutions from broader analytical perspective
  • cultivate leadership abilities
  • increase your confidence
  • improve emotional and physical health.

If you want to spend serious time developing your career, then creating a vision of where you want to be, and what you want to be is vital. A mentor is the perfect person to do this – either someone from within your company, or someone you know personally, or someone you bring in professionally to strategically plan your progress.

Either way, in a nutshell, a mentor can teach you ways to raise your visibility in a highly authentic and positive way. And in today’s competitive world, that is critical.

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