How Turning into a Mentor Can Assist Your Personal Profession Growth
From Cameron Papp
Let’s play a game. I’ll try to write some career growth tips without using the words “pandemic” or “covid”.
Well, these “last days” have caused many of us to look within. Am I growing, am I influencing the world – or at least – my community?
I didn’t ask any of these questions in 2016 when I signed up to mentor Big Brothers Big Sisters. I had just moved to New York and just wanted to meet new people and “get involved”. I’m sure I had a selfish inner reason to volunteer – to feel better too.
Perhaps that selfishness worked because as much as I hope I have helped my mentee grow, I have found that our roles are generally reversed. He’s helped me grow a lot more – not just as a person, but also as a career professional.
If you are thinking about becoming a mentor, be it through a nonprofit program, your current job, or just part of your normal everyday life, it can have life-changing benefits. In this post, I’ll focus on the benefits I’ve found through mentoring from a professional perspective.
What is mentoring?
First, I would like to convey what mentoring is not:
- Mentoring is not about you.
- It’s not about making yourself look good in front of your co-workers and friends.
- It’s not a vanity project to put on your resume or use for LinkedIn.
- It is not a mechanism to demonstrate your expertise. In fact, a good mentor can be perfectly effective NOT being an expert.
While mentoring is not a “me first” company, there are numerous personal benefits that you will receive from mentoring. The following are four key benefits that I have found from a professional perspective:
1. You start to think more strategically
As a mentor, you become more reflective and think about why you do things the way you do. Studies have shown that the most effective way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. You start to think about how you react to certain situations. And then, after deliberation, you will decide if this is the path you would recommend to your mentee, or maybe you will offer them a better path based on your mistakes.
2. You become more than just a good listener
Mentoring is less about speaking than listening. You learn that if you just talk all the time, you can’t be a very effective teacher. People will turn you off at some point. Once you realize this from a mentoring perspective, you will learn that it is even more important in the business world.
When I started having my weekly calls with my mentee, I was scared. “What am I going to talk about? What if I have nothing to say? “, I wondered. Indeed, the early conversations were a bit one-sided. But as time went on, I realized that I just had to listen – and I mean, really listen. That means being present, focused, and attentive.
You will be amazed how much you can learn and help someone at the same time, just by listening. I learned this through mentoring and started to practice it in my daily work life too. My meetings have become much more productive.
Other items from AllBusiness.com:
3. You will become a better problem solver
Mentoring really just comes down to improving your expertise in order to give advice to someone else. This does not mean that you are necessarily the ultimate authority with the correct answers. It means that you look back on your past experiences and use them to achieve something. This is a problem solution 101.
4. You build leadership skills
Maybe you haven’t been in a leadership role, but you will if you’re a mentor. Suddenly someone asks you for advice on how to deal with certain situations. There is something that makes your brain think differently. You stop thinking about “just doing” and start thinking about “leading”.
One day my mentee mentioned that he couldn’t get along with a teacher and wanted to know what to do about it. I asked if he had spoken to his teacher about what he was struggling with. He said no. Then I remembered a quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw: “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it happened.”
I told my mentee that he would never solve the problem without disclosing what this problem actually is. This made me think about my own problems at work and how to solve them. Am I leading by example? Do I give the same advice to my colleagues?
What does it take to be a leader?
You need to be real, positive, and inspire others to get better. Whenever you mentor someone, take a mini crash course to develop these traits. Once you do this based on your experience with your mentee, you will develop the skills necessary to do the same with your colleagues.
RELATED: 7 Reasons You Need a Business Mentor – and How to Land One
About the author
Contribution by: Cameron Papp
Cameron Papp is a growth-minded and accomplished communications professional with over eight years experience in public relations and media work. Cameron has proven successful in developing and promoting strategic communications programs for a variety of organizations ranging from scratchy startups to popular global brands. He is currently the director of public relations at TourRadar, a Series C-supported technology startup. Prior to that, he was part of the StubHub communications team for six years.
Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.