The right mentors can serve as role models of success. She can be a mirror, reflecting good and bad impartially. They won’t have all the answers but will help you find the right questions. Finding the ideal mentor is important for any professional, especially a mentor for women navigating the corporate world.
Professional Women in Corporate
More women are taking on senior positions in corporate America than ever before, yet we still occupy only around 20 percent of Fortune 500 corporate board seats. Why is that? Odds are, those other 80 percent of board seats are occupied by men who found proper mentors. With a more significant raw number of men finding corporate success, there are more men to learn from. But we’re turning that tide!
Qualities of a mentor:
1. Treats you as equal to a man
Your mentor shouldn’t disregard gender – gender is the whole reason we’re having these conversations. But a good mentor knows you are every bit as worthy of professional success as a male counterpart.
Watch out! Go back and read that last sentence again: “… you are every bit as worthy of professional success as a male counterpart.” It seems so simple, but it’s insidiously simple to forget too. Centuries of cultural norms are broken with that one statement and it’s all too easy to slip back to the male-dominated mindset.
2. There for you, not them
Everyone likes giving advice. It’s an easy ego boost. The right mentor, however, should be engaged in your world, actively listening to and reflecting on your circumstances. Anyone eager to tell you what to do before finding out who you are, where you are, and what you want, is very likely not the person supporting women professionally.
3. Draws you out
Chances are you haven’t written an autobiography. Maybe you have. But chances are your memoirs are a work in progress. A successful mentor will get you thinking about who you are and what you want. The story of who you are and who you are becoming will get clearer. A mentor will help you find the mindset needed to be your best.
4. Sees the big picture
Women tend to carry the burden of taking care of things at home – so find somebody that understands this and provides motivation for work-life integration. It could be your mentor prefers the title Life Coach, because it’s frankly unreasonable to think getting ahead in the office happens in a vacuum. Finding time and headspace for career advancement, a family, and you – yes YOU – is almost too much for anyone to handle alone. A mentor, or life coach, can give an objective outside perspective.
5. Pushes You
Setting and meeting challenges feel great. Depending on your situation, your mentor may advocate setting many small easily-achieved goals, or the opposite: striving for the seemingly impossible. Either way, your mentor should be someone who motivates you, advocates for you, and celebrates with you.
Join a Mentorship Program
IAW is focused on mentorship and helping you find the perfect mentor to progress your career path. Learn more about mentorship from our weekly events and register to become a woman’s mentor today!