Choosing the right leadership mentor isn’t as easy as you think.
You might gravitate to people you know or get along with in the workplace. These individuals are great to bounce ideas off. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be the best leadership mentor for you.
When you’re choosing one, there are specific qualities and attributes you want to look for. You also want to know more about them personally and the journey they’ve been on.
So before you lock yourself in with a mentor, make sure they meet these criteria.
What is Their Current Position?
You should start with the job title of your potential leadership mentor. Ideally, they should be in a similar position to you or a higher role within the organisation. You could also seek out someone who is a professional leadership coach. But it can be better to have a person who works in the same company.
The preferable choice is an individual who is in a position that you want to be in. The leadership mentor can help map out a roadmap for you to get you there. They can also help focus your attention on specific skills you need to be successful in future roles.
How Long Have They Been a Leader?
A good question to ask is how long they’ve been in a leadership position. They might still be learning or figuring things out. In this instance, it won’t be beneficial for your career as the advice or guidance they give might change. They may get more out of mentoring you than you do them.
This isn’t to say you can’t work together. You might be better off bouncing ideas off each and trying to overcome obstacles together. However, this won’t make them a good leadership mentor. You’ll still need to find someone.
Have They Been a Leadership Mentor Before?
It’s good to get an understanding if the person you’re interested in has been a leadership mentor before. They should have an understanding of what is involved and expected of them.
For starters, it’s not their role to coach or develop you. You want your leadership mentor to provide you guidance and focus. They should help broaden your perspective and give you different ways to approach scenarios. You won’t get all the answers from them, but you’ll talk through potential solutions that you’ll come up with.
What Obstacles Have They Overcome?
No one’s leadership journey has been easy. It’s very rare for someone to have instant success, and if they have, they’ve encountered adversity on the other side of it. What you want to know is how your potential mentor has learned from it.
During your discovery conversation, ask the person about their leadership journey. They might only tell you about their achievements and job history. But dive deeper and find out what they had to overcome to get where they are today. You should ask them about their biggest challenges and the hardest decisions they’ve had to make as a leader.
What is Their Leadership Approach?
Another question to ask during your initial discussions is about the individual’s leadership approach. Do they alter it according to the people they manage, or do they expect their direct reports to adapt to them? You want to see if their style gels with yours or, better yet, complements your philosophy.
You don’t want someone who is the complete opposite. You already have the leadership foundations. It’s why you’re in this role. You want someone who is going to help build upon what you currently possess and take you to the next level.
Take Your Time Finding the Right Leadership Mentor
There isn’t a deadline for finding a leadership mentor. Take your time and ask all the questions you need to in order to get the right person. These relationships often last years. So you want to be sure you start a relationship with someone who will be there for you in the long term.
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