Mentoring Map: Developing an Actionable Plan to Reach Your Next Level of Success


January is Mentoring Month at IAW. Mentors are a key element of your success plan. It is important to align yourself with a strong team of mentors who will help guide you to professional success.

During eChapter today, Star Jones shared her insights on what a mentor is and provided the top six qualities that she has found make a M.E.N.T.O.R. who matters.

  1. M – Motivation: A mentor should provide positive encouragement to help you pursue your passions and goals.
  2. E – Excellence: A mentor should push you to do your absolute best – more than what is required and better than what is expected.
  3. N – Networking: We all know the importance of having a strong network. Your mentor should help to introduce you to new networking opportunities as well as to their own network of support when needed.
  4. T – Time: Be sure that your mentor can invest time with you. Relationships don’t grow overnight and it will take consistent, regular meetings to establish a strong support system with your mentor.
  5. O – Openness: Be open to feedback and change. Being receptive creates an environment where creativity breeds radical change and trust. Be open to the feedback your mentor provides.
  6. R – Respect: Value others and show respect for their time, feedback, and support.

Our eChapter panel today shared some great insights into the mentor/mentee relationship and discussed how to go about ensuring you have a support team as you set out to achieve your professional goals.

The IAW Mentor Map is a tool that you can use to track your overall success.

Click here to download the IAW Mentor Map

At the center of the mentor map is you. We start this exercise by defining your goals for the next 6 to 12 months. Remember, SMART goals are an effective way to get your personal and professional life on track this upcoming year.

After you set your goals, a self-assessment can help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

We all know the importance of emotional support. Identifying your team of support means that you will have a personal tribe ready to cheer you on when the going gets tough. These are usually your friends and family – people that you can vent to or share successes with. We’ve even heard of people connecting with Instagram followers and becoming “digital friends.”

As you make progress toward accomplishing your goals, it is important to be open to feedback. Where will this feedback come from? How often will you solicit feedback? Most companies have formal performance review programs that allow a leadership team to offer feedback on a regular basis. However, you may also want to reach out to colleagues to understand how you are performing. If you are a business owner, your employees and customers may be able to provide feedback.

Developing your skills is a really important element of success, yet so many people do not define learning paths for themselves. Keeping your skills fresh means that you stay competitive in the workplace, are able to stretch your career opportunities, and even open doors to new and better opportunities.

IAW Members can keep their skills fresh by attending webinars in our BrightTalk channel and taking advantage of the Star12 and Lorman benefits.

On the right side of the Mentor Map, we identify three groups of people who will help support you. These are role models, mentors, and sponsors.

  • Role models: Who do you look up to and aspire to be like? Follow these people on their social channels. Subscribe to their websites and newsletters. Try to see them speak in person when possible. Learn from them and be inspired!
  • Mentors: A mentor can come from within your organization or be outside of it, but they should be somebody who meets the needs we listed at the start of this post. In Your Guide to Mentoring Success, we identify how to find a mentor, establish the relationship, and track your progress.
  • Sponsors: Who advocates for you when you aren’t in the room? Where mentors advise and give you guidance on next steps, a sponsor will act. Both are needed to leverage and advance career success, but a sponsor will elevate your success by speaking highly of you in “closed door” meetings. In the workplace, men are known to have twice as many sponsors as women. It is important to understand the difference between the role of a mentor and that of a sponsor, and to take the opportunity to act as a sponsor to other women within your organization.

The final step on the mentor map is accountability tracking. Take ownership in your success. Track your progress toward goals and set reminders to check in with your mentors and request feedback from others.

Now that you’ve identified the key components of your success – defining what is important to you, setting clear goals, creating an outline of the individuals who will support you, and defining a process to monitor your accountability – you are better equipped to go out and achieve great things!