Having good mentors can be very helpful in guiding and supporting you as you make career decisions and face challenges.
Article by Juliette Han for Forbes US – translated by Lisa Deleforterie
At the beginning of your career, you have a larger number of potential mentors because almost everyone around you is older or more experienced than you. The most common and obvious way to find a mentor is to look for someone who has achieved success in the career you are pursuing and who has faced similar challenges in your industry or role.
As you progress in your career, it becomes increasingly important to have mentors, as your decisions become more critical, complex, and nuanced. However, finding a mentor can become a challenge for many people, as the number of potential mentors dwindles as one's career progresses. As you move into leadership positions, it's essential to broaden your perspectives, not only from those who have followed your professional path, but also outside of your immediate ecosystem, to gain new perspectives. Additionally, a good relationship with a mentor requires chemistry, trust, and connection, which can further narrow the options.
How to expand the circle of potential mentors? Here are three new ways to identify people who can bring a unique perspective to your career.
People who have new perspectives and skills
If you're trying to learn new skills or change industries, it's a good idea to find people with the skills you're looking for. You should enjoy mentoring those younger and less experienced than you, and remember that mentoring is a two-way street. These people can bring you new perspectives as you learn new skills and gain new experiences, while you can share your experience with them on their journey. To expand your pool of mentors, redefine your criteria based on skills, insight, or knowledge, rather than focusing solely on someone older than you in terms of age, experience, and title. For example, given the newness of AI, it may be impossible to find a senior mentor in your role who is knowledgeable and has demonstrated leadership, especially if you are a senior executive. Look for people who have fewer years of experience overall, but are leaders in their field.
People who have deep knowledge of your industry
You don't necessarily need to seek out mentors who have made the same career decisions as you. Instead, identify people who have seen others follow the career path you want to take and who have detailed knowledge of the industry or types of companies you want to work for. For example, these could be headhunters who have long-term relationships with the leaders they've placed, talent managers in your industry, or other leaders whose roles may be very different from yours but who have worked with people you want to be like. These people can give you a fresh, outside perspective on what it takes to succeed in your chosen path.
People who have made life choices and compromises similar to yours
Find like-minded mentors outside of your industry who have made similar life choices and made compromises to achieve comparable aspirations. Many successful professionals face similar trade-offs regardless of these factors, and finding people whose careers overlap as little as possible can be the best way to get objective opinions about the challenges you face. You can often find these people by engaging in activities that align with your values or interests.
Having a diverse group of mentors who can bring unique perspectives is key. Each mentor does not necessarily have to fulfill several conditions; you have to combine different points of view to decide on the next steps.
Also read: Leadership: How to communicate well as a new manager