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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Palmer


Updated: Mar 21

Mentorship.  Over the past week, I have used mentorship in a variety of ways, with slightly different nuances.  I wanted to share so as you think about the ‘people in your neighborhood’, you realize that support is available through mentors.

  1. Advisors.  Mentors are advisors that have more experience than you and therefore a different or unique perspective and guidance to impart.  They usually do not have influence over your current role and therefore, their guidance will not directly impact your job or compensation.  

  2. Generational.  Mentors can also be younger and less professionally experienced.  Their unique perspective (as consumers, having been raised in a technology-connected world, and as social media super users) can offer mentorship to more experienced folks who see the world through different eyes.  For me, it was a ‘millennial mentor’ who checked my messaging when I was addressing his peers to assure what I wanted to convey landed as intended.

  3. Reframing Leadership.  If you need guidance from a leader who would not typically see themselves as your mentor, you may open the dialogue with ‘Can I ask for your mentorship?’.  In this way, you are redefining your relationship for this conversation.  You are not asking for them to solve or fix, you are asking how they would approach a particular situation and to offer you guidance.  This feels like a different approach than is typical in a manager/direct report interaction.

  4. Networking.  As college and graduate students start to look for summer employment, I have tapped my contacts to network with and offer mentorship to some of these students.  There may not be a role available in their firm, but conversations lead to insights and advice, and can lay the groundwork for an expanded professional network.  

  5. Role Model.  A prospective client who launched a successful start-up right out of college has never had business role models.  For years, as a sole proprietor, she was an island, without experience in building out an organization or experience with leaders who could serve as role models.  Now that her company has grown, she is looking for coaching and also thought partnership and mentorship from someone with experience to help guide her to her next success milestone.

All similar:  seeking support and guidance. All slightly different.  Where do you need support?  Are you looking for support from leaders or peers?  Or might you be best served by seeking mentorship from an advisor, someone with a different generational point of view, a leader, your network, or someone who could serve as a role model for this stage of your career?  All start with an ask.

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