Mentorship Is a Two-Way Street
Mentors have positively influenced my life in many ways because they encouraged me to be who I was meant to be. They understood that each of us brings a unique value to the world, and they encouraged me to explore what mine was and how I could share it with others. They even gave me opportunities to experiment with different approaches – and stood by to counsel when I had opportunities to grow from some of those approaches.
In many cases, my mentors were older and more experienced than me – my parents, my middle school yearbook sponsor, my high school track and basketball coaches, the leaders of the energy consulting team that I helped grow, and experienced parents who share their wisdom with me.
Over time, though, some of my mentors began to be younger and/or more junior in title than me – the special engineers who communicated complicated concepts simply, the keeper of the culture who helped others experience change in their own way, my assistants who helped me navigate complicated politics, and most recently my own kids.
The beauty of mentorship is that the benefits flow both ways if both parties approach the relationship with openness and curiosity. I was the designated mentor at the beginning of many of these relationships with the juniors, but over time it became obvious that they were mentoring me as much as (or more than) I was mentoring them.
All of these people made a tremendous impact on my life because they didn’t ask me to be just like everyone else, and they didn’t treat me just like everyone else. They encouraged me to find out what is different about me and how to bring value with that difference.
My mentors extracted value from me in extraordinary ways because they took the time and approached our relationships with curiosity. Their interest in me extended beyond a certain classroom or team or title or company. These mentors took the time to learn about the whole me – not just the athlete, or the employee, the student, or the boss. They learned about what motivated me and about the breadth of experience that I brought to our work together.
Supporting others in their roles as mentors and mentees is one of the core reasons that I founded Homecourt Partners. We can add value by developing these programs, providing training to the participants, and supporting the in-house program sponsors.
Reach out today to explore how mentorship development can support the growth and development of your organization and your people.
If you’d like to learn more about how to build organizations and teams that deliver on business objectives, visit the Homecourt Partners website or reach out to me directly. A version of this article also appeared on Homecourt's Blog.