Better Mentoring, in three lists.

My new book,  “Bridging Differences for Better Mentoring” with Center for Mentoring Excellence founder Dr. Lois Zachary,  was recently released by Berrett-Koehler Publishers.  You may be wondering what the phrase “better mentoring means.” Wonder no more. I am about to define it for you and offer some tips and tidbits to so you can achieve better mentoring.

Since people best retain content in threes, here are 3 lists of 3 things to remember about Better Mentoring.

small pot with sprouting plant growing from it

LIST 1:  Better Mentoring is….

  1. A reciprocal partnership
    Like any other partnership, (think medical practice, law firm, marriage), both mentor and mentee give something to the relationship, and both benefit.  Yes, mentees, mentors benefit too.  We hear over and over from mentors that they gain new perspectives, better leadership skills, and a powerful sense of contribution, among other things.
  2. Developmental
    Mentoring should focus on the mentee’s development, not just the mentee’s performance. Supervisors, colleagues, and advisors can help a mentee in learning how to perform best in their current role.  Mentors should focus on helping mentees grow into and beyond the mentee role.  To do this, mentor and mentee must set goals that focus on improving the skills, knowledge, and competency of the mentee.
  3. An effective strategy for inclusion
    Better Mentoring bridges difference.  Through my work leading Diversity & Inclusion, I came to believe that leadership buy-in and educational programming are important, but nothing moved the needle more on inclusion than encouraging and fostering meaningful relationships across difference.  Something transformational occurs when organizations create a structure for workplace relationships where people who may not ordinarily come together build trust and learn from one another.

LIST 2: Better Mentoring requires…

  1. A relationship
    I often hear things like “I consider Oprah my mentor,”  or “Nelson Mandela was a mentor to me.”  This can be true only if you actually know and interact with Oprah or Nelson Mandela.   These and other celebrities can be considered role models, teachers, even guides, but not mentors.  Mentoring requires an actual relationship with mutuality of purpose, reciprocity and focus on the mentee’s development.
  2. An investment of time
    Though I work mostly with organizations that have structured mentoring programs,  effective mentoring relationships need not stem from a structured program.  Informal mentorship do yield powerful results.  However, even informal mentoring relationships require an investment of time.  Mentor and mentee must prepare, reflect, and follow up on meetings and commitments.
  3. Intentionality
    Mentoring should be purpose-driven from the get-go.  What are the goals and outcomes you want to achieve?  Without intentionality, it is difficult to gauge progress, measure results, or to steer a mentoring relationship back on course.

LIST 3:  Better Mentoring is not…

  1. A download of a mentor’s knowledge
    A mentor’s job is to facilitate the mentee’s learning.  This can best be accomplished when a mentor shares their experiences, however, mentoring is not effective when a mentor simply downloads their knowledge to the mentee. Rather, mentors must listen closely to their mentee’s needs, provide a sounding board and a safe space for the mentee to ask questions, take risks and explore possibilities.
  2. Transactional
    I am often asked for a checklist that people should complete in order to make mentoring effective.  While there are predictable phases of mentoring, and certain conversations that are important to have, there is no checklist for effective mentoring.  Why?  Because mentoring is relational, not transactional.
  3. One size fits all
    No two mentoring relationships are the same.  Each journey is highly personalized and co-created by mentor and mentees.  What’s more, the form of mentoring itself may vary.  Better mentoring takes many forms:  1-on-1 mentoring pairs, mentoring circles, peer mentoring, mutual mentoring, etc.  All can be effective as long as they follow the tips in these lists.

There you have it.  Three lists of three tips and tidbits that can guide you towards better mentoring.

3 Ways to Identify Cultural Differences on a Global Team

By: Art Markman June 15, 2018 (Harvard Business Review)

In almost any business these days, you are guaranteed to interact with people whose cultural background is quite different from your own. In a global organization, you may have colleagues that come from a different country. You may partner with organizations whose employees come from another part of the country. There may also be cultural differences between you and some of the customers and clients you serve.

Dealing With Impostor Syndrome When You’re Treated as an Impostor

By The New York Times Kristin Wong June 12, 2018

Impostor syndrome is not a unique feeling, but some researchers believe it hits minority groups harder.

Last May, I walked into a room of impeccably dressed journalists at a media event in Los Angeles. I tugged on my pilly cardigan and patted down my frizzy bangs.

When a waiter presented a tray of sliced cucumbers and prosciutto and asked, “Crudité?” I resisted the temptation to shove three of them into my mouth and instead smiled and replied, “No, thank you.” I was focused on the task at hand: pretending not to be a fraud among this crowd of professionals.

Ironically, I was at the event to interview someone about impostor syndrome.

The psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes coined the term in 1978, describing it as “internal experience of intellectual phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” In other words, it’s that sinking sense that you are a fraud in your industry, role or position, regardless of your credibility, authority or accomplishments.

This is not a unique feeling, and it hits many of us at some point in our lives. But some researchers believe it hits minority groups harder, as a lack of representation can make minorities feel like outsiders, and discrimination creates even more stress and anxiety when coupled with impostorism, according to Kevin Cokley, a professor of educational psychology and African diaspora studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Read the full article here.

CEOs Need Mentors Too

By: Suzanne de Janasz and Maury Peiperl (Harvard Business Review April 2015 Issue)

In 2010, when David Nish was promoted from CFO to CEO at Standard Life, he knew the scale of the challenge his company faced. The 185-year-old giant had just embarked on a sweeping transformation from an insurer to a long-term savings and investment company. Nish also knew that as the person leading the change, he would be tested by decisions and management situations he hadn’t encountered in the past. Certain that he could benefit from the perspective of someone who had been down similar roads before, Nish turned to a somewhat unusual adviser: Niall FitzGerald, a former chairman of Unilever.

The mentoring relationship they subsequently established is illustrative of those we have studied in our research—a two-year inquiry into an emerging way in which new CEOs in large organizations gain access to seasoned counsel and feedback. We found dozens of executives who were accelerating their learning by engaging the services of high-profile veteran leaders from outside their companies. To learn more about this growing but as yet undocumented phenomenon, we interviewed 15 chairman mentors and 25 protégés—CEOs, CEO designates, and CFOs. (Chairman Mentors International facilitated access to many of the study participants.)

On the basis of what we heard, we are convinced that more CEOs should connect with mentors rather than assume that theirs is a burden to be shouldered alone. But we also discovered aspects of such arrangements that make them trickier than the mentoring that takes place at lower organizational levels. At the CEO level, special considerations must go into making a match between mentor and mentee, structuring their sessions to deliver the intended benefits, and prioritizing the process so that it isn’t crowded out by other demands. By sharing what we’ve learned about these issues, we hope to pave the way for more use of this highly efficient learning model.

Read the full article here.

Mentoring the Mentors: Advice and inspiration for working with startups

Posted by: Rick Turoczy (Originally published at siliconflorist.com on July 3, 2012)

Around the time PIE was starting the accelerator phase of this ongoing experiment, David Cohen, cofounder of TechStars, shared the TechStars Mentor Manifesto. And it served as an inspiration for me. A post by Micah Baldwin, a former TechStars mentor, provided a similar nudge for me.

I’m often reminded to go back and reread both of these posts and am inspired, again and again. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to augment the PIE mentor guidance a bit with some things that we’ve learned from observing PIE startups and mentors over the years.

We shared these tips with the PIE mentors and a few of them suggested we turn it into a blog post for the broader mentor community.

So we took that mentoring to heart.

If you’re thinking about becoming a mentor for startups — either in a formal accelerator program or independently — here are some tips for thinking about how to work with entrepreneurs.

Read on here for 10 tips for mentoring startups.