4 key points of a mentor

The Mentor

Looking back through my years in the chamber world, so many situations, encounters and learning experiences come to mind. Not all are difficult, but some stand out as teachable moments. Those difficult situations are the ones that cultivate great principled leaders who are able to withstand the test of time. Those leaders generally have a calling to share their findings as a mentor.

The following are four key points of a principled leader fulfilling his or her role as a mentor:
1. Guide the answer
More often than not, your mentee knows the answer to the difficult problem or situation. They just need to verbalize it and obtain affirmation from a mentor. For example, in the first month a mentee was at her new job, her board chairman went off script at a luncheon attended by more than 200 people and offended an influential person. She was faced with a decision that seemed very difficult at the time, but when she verbalized what she thought needed to happen, it became clear to her the direction she needed to go.
2. Enjoy it. It’s refreshing!
Let’s be honest … the day-to-day issues in the chamber profession can wear you down. There is nothing more encouraging than when you are on the other end of the phone call with your mentee and you are just talking through a situation. It helps ease those difficult situations and it affirms actions taken. Some days, it’s a pure and simple refreshing boost. Those trying times we might have experienced seem smaller and smaller when we verbalize and affirm the mentee’s answers. It’s refreshing to witness this interchange and see the mentee grow and develop. This type of interchange re-charges a mentor, “refreshing” his or her day.
3. Encourage professional development
It’s essential to encourage your mentee to find a career track for professional development in his or her area or path. The mentee should incorporate a strong budget line item in his or her chamber or association for trips to state and national conferences. Enrolling in the United States Chamber Institute program, and its class advisor program, is an extremely important move, as well. Your mentee needs to understand the return on this investment will be two or three-fold. As a mentor, if you attend a conference with your mentee, you carve out a little time to be with your mentee. It is a very rewarding time to spend together.
4. Share a dream
Someday, find something you and a mentee can aspire to. Is it to co-author a book together? Is it to simply attend an industry conference together that one day might have seemed impossible? Being a mentor is rewarding. It is a vital component in an executive’s career. It is a necessity for success and total professional fulfillment, much like the wealthy individual who feels “whole” only after sharing his or her wealth.

In conclusion
Why wait? Act now. If you are a new executive, I can tell you from personal experience that it is definitely worth your time to seek a mentor who has been in the industry for a long time. A mentor who has experienced a lot of situations—similar in nature to what you will face—is an invaluable opportunity from which to learn and build your confidence. To help you grow in this crazy world, the road is much easier with a mentor. It will be, by far, one of the best decisions you ever make.