We all know how valuable a mentor can be. They can change your career, open up new perspectives, and help you reach the next level. But many people never take advantage of the benefits of a mentor, even though they really want one, for the simple reason that they don’t know how to ask.
If you’re considering a mentor or working up your nerve to ask, here are some tips that can help:
Start by thinking it through. Before you start selecting a prospective mentor, give some thought to what you want to accomplish and what kind of help you can use.
Find a candidate. Identify a mentor who can help you with what you want to achieve. The ideal candidate is someone who has done something similar themselves, who has the expertise and knowledge you need. Think of the people you already know, and talk to colleagues who may be able to connect you with a wider network of candidates. As you think about possible mentors, consider their values and their style of leadership and communication to make sure they’re compatible with yours. And keep your options realistic: the CEO of a large corporation may be the person who feels like the best fit, but it’s not likely that they have time to devote to mentorship.
Make the ask. Once you’ve identified the best candidate, it’s time to approach them. Don’t just walk up to someone and ask, “Will you be my mentor?” It might work, but it’s awkward and not the best path to a yes. Instead, try this technique, which has always worked for me: Say, “I really admire [something that stands out to you about their work] and was wondering if I could ask for your advice and guidance from time to time as a mentor as I [what you want to accomplish].
Express gratitude. Once you have a response, whether it’s yes or no, express gratitude for their time and effort. You never know why they might be saying yes, and you can never judge the reasons why they may have said no. Whatever their answer and their reasons, a gracious response from you will build goodwill.
Set up expectations. If the person does say yes, follow up to work through the details. Be sure that you and your mentor have a clear understanding of exactly what you want from the relationship, how much time it will take, and how often you will meet.
Lead from within: A mentor can be immensely helpful. It’s important to find the right person and, once you do, to get the relationship off to a good start by asking in the right way.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
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Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.