Mentors: Why, who, when, and what next
Mentors play an important role in business. Most successful business people I know will attribute some of their success to having good mentors. So what makes for a good mentor? Well, it depends on you. First you have to decide what you want from your mentors. You will notice I say mentors plural as you likely need more than one. One place to start is where you are weak. Face it, we all have weaknesses. The best mentors for you are probably strong where you are weak. If you are strong in finance, you may not need a financial mentor. Whereas if you are weak in sales, you may want to find a mentor who is experienced in this area. A great way to figure out your strengths and weaknesses is through a book and an assessment tool called Stengths finder.
Next, how often should you meet with your mentors? Should you meet with several at once or each individually? This is very dependent on what your needs are. If you have the ability to have regular meetings with your mentors, do it. I find monthly meetings about right for me in most cases. Use this time to explore not only tactical issues you have in their area of expertise but also ask for their help on longer term strategy. For large scale decisions you may want to meet as a group in a more advisory panel approach. What ever you do, make sure you are not taking too much of these people's time.
What if you do not agree with the guidance of your mentor? There is going to come a time when your mentor says something you do not agree with. Start by asking their reasoning. Make sure you understand why they are taking the position they are. Respect their opinion even if you do not agree with it. If you are concerned that your divergent views might harm your company, ask another mentor to give you feedback on the situation. At the end of the day remember that you are the person responsible. It is your decision, not your mentor.