The Power of Mentoring: How to find a mentor and get the most out of a mentoring relationship

By Courtney Mathew

30 Mar 2020

We are now a quarter of the way through 2020 and this week held our latest Brand You webinar series with Maud Lindley, Founder and Executive Director of Serendis Leadership.  The key objective of the Brand You webinar series is to assist in building a solid foundation of leadership skills such that participants are ready to step up and lead when the opportunities arise.  You can access this and other past recordings of our Brand You series from the member dashboard on our website. 

One of the questions WiBF gets asked a lot is how to find a mentor and get the most out of a mentoring relationship. Maud is founder of Serendis Leadership, where she provides unparalleled expertise that informs her approach to leadership development, strategic team facilitation and behavioural change, particularly in the pursuit of developing a culture of collaborative leadership and mentoring.  We been partnering with Serendis to deliver our WIBF mentoring program for over a decade hence she has a wealth of experience to share 

Now, more than ever, mentoring is a critical component of career success. It will form one of the pillars of success to manage a positive outlook over the next few months, allowing you to stay connected and be invited into the brains of othersto see the world though their perspective Your potential mentors will be glad to connect in a context away from the current distraction and stress of the business environment. 

Maud shared the key factors of career success from her organizations research, which include: 

Mentoring can tap into these factors and help enable your success, develop visibility and clarity on your personal context and organisational culture.  

Maud explained the difference between mentoring versuother relationships: a mentor shares their own experience with youbut then lets you work out your own path and is driven by the mentee. An executive coach – on the other hand – works with you towards a set of objectives in the organisation, enhancing a particular skillset and is often organised internally.  A sponsor advocates for you and introduces you to their network, but this happens organically and is earnt through respect. 

Finding a mentor can be a daunting experience but Maud recommends approaching someone who is not necessarily prominent, but someone who has similar experiences. If they have achieved the goals you want to pursue, then they will be able to relay the challenges and experiences and how they handled them.  Mentors need not be substantially senior to you – think about a specific capability you want to develop and who you know that exemplifies this. They may share the same passion or background in your careerhave progressed their career with an unusual path, be someone you admire who has enhanced their own personal brand or someone who has inspired you and shown leadership. Peertopeer mentoring can also be beneficial with team members having varied skillsstrengths and experiences. 

Maud stressed that trust is essential to all mentoring relationships – you need to be completely open about personal challenges and the journey you are on. It will require you to be vulnerable, sharing personal experiences that may be uncomfortable. You need to feel that you can have a conversation without judgement in order to gain the most from the relationship. 

In approaching your potential mentor, Maud recommends sharing your mentoring goal with them to give the mentor a vision for the relationship, explain why their skills and capabilities inspired you to approach them and how you think they can help. Highlight your commitment and expectations with your mentor, Maud generally suggests 4-6 sessions for 4 to 6 months. The clearer you are on the time frame and goals, the more likely you are to achieve specific outcomes. 

Many people ask Maud how to navigate mentoring relationships in order to value add to both you and your mentor – she recommends 5 key things: 

  1. Developing trust between each other, 
  2. Having clear objectives for the relationship, 
  3. Being prepared for each session and the mentee drives the agenda so the mentor knows what to expect,
  4. Take actions in between sessions, often Maud hears that what makes a mentoring relationship successful are the activities,
  5. Be open to step outside of your comfort zone, trying new things in-between sessions. 

Maud stressed the importance of setting clear objectives by identify what your goal would be from mentoring. Then determine the different aspects and pillars that will tell you when you have achieved this, unpack what inspires you, what generates energy for you. Finally develop a list of actions based on these pillars that you aim to undertake during the mentoring experience. 

We are proud to partner with Serendis for the WiBF Mentoring Program, a flagship program in WiBF’s offering that has been running annually since 2007The program aims to support the meaningful development of gender-balanced leadership in the Australian banking and finance sector. Much more than just mentoring, the program provides participants with an incredibly rich curriculum that includes psychometric and personal strengths identification tools, leadership development workshops and relevant education on diversity and inclusion.  2020 intake now taking applications – email us to express your interest 

See our upcoming events and Brand You webinars  or register for one of our courses.