June 8, 2021 by Cheryl Viola, Executive Director, MBA
When I traveled to the Pacific Islands, I was intrigued by the variety of trees there and how big some of them were. We enjoyed the coolness the shade they provided. Recently I was at a meeting where one of the speakers said: “Like the Shadow of a tree, your impact may touch places you’ll never be.” We can never tell the impact we make on another person. John Maxwell said, “people development is more than just teaching. It’s transforming.”
There are people who come into your life inspires you and it stays with you. I have found that like the tree, you do not realize the reach of impact you can make on a person. We seldom see the ripple effect that we create. Often the impact is not because of a grand gesture but from a small simple act. I will never forget a few years after serving as president of a women’s organization, one woman said she will never forget me because I was the first person she met when her family moved to a new community. I didn’t do anything grand, I welcomed her, asked her name, learned about her family, her children’s names, and ages. This simple inquiry didn’t seem like much, but the impact had a ripple effect not only on this woman but on several others. John Maxwell teaches that a leader and mentor provides training, supplying tools, offering opportunities, and creating an environment conducive for other’s development.
Mentors have the ability to impact our lives and at times change our course. The best mentors help define us, but it is never the result of just one person. Mentorship is a relationship, a two-way street of communication. We need to take the time to develop genuine connections with those we admire and assist them when we can.
5 Types of Mentors:
1. The Master of Craft
This mentor is in the same industry, they are your personal Obi-Wan Kenobi Jedi Master. Seek someone who has the wisdom through years of experience who can provide insight in your industry and can assist you in fine-tuning your skills. This person will offer advice and help you identify your strengths.
2. The Champion of your Cause
This mentor will sing your praises and talk you up to others. It is important to have a champion for you in your current workplace. These are the people who have your back, and they introduce you to useful people in your industry.
3. The Copilot
This mentor is your best buddy at work. The colleague who can talk you through projects, advise you in navigating the various personalities on the team and in the company. They also listen to you when you need to vent. When you have a copilot both the quality of your work and your engagement level improves.
I have been blessed with a great copilot. When I need a different perspective, she is the one I reach out to. We bounce ideas off each other, we have developed a great relationship where listen to one another, trust and respect each other. This relationship is truly enriching.
4. The Anchor
This person does not have to work in your industry, they can be a friend or family member. This mentor is your confidante and sounding board.
As much as people try, we will bring work home with us and we need that anchor, that person we can vent to and help bring everything back into balance. It has been my experience that some mentors cross over into more than one category. My copilot is also one of my anchors. When my copilot is in the anchor role, she encourages me to leave the office and helps me keep the work life balance in place.
5. The Reverse Mentor
Learn from others in your workplace. You can learn a lot from those whom you are mentoring. They may not have the same number of years in the industry as you but they have much to offer. They can provide you with good feedback, and keep your perspective fresh and relevant.
I had the opportunity to have a few staff members previously who taught me so much. Never fear learning from others, regardless of their age, younger or older they bring valuable insight. Too often industry can get stuck with the ‘sacred cows. The things that people are afraid of letting go. Sometimes it takes a new person to come in and ask the questions on why you are still doing things the same way. They can often point out a more efficient way – we have to be willing to listen to everyone regardless of their experience.
We need mentors at all stages of our life. Some mentors come into your life for a short time and others become lifelong friends. Never stop building relationships. Melinda Gates said: “If you are successful, it is because somewhere, at some time, someone gave you an idea that started you off in the right direction.”