National Mentoring Month
Mentoring is a proven approach to personal and professional growth. Mentoring comes in different shapes and sizes and will only work if leaders follow a few common principles.
Author Anthony K. Tjan highlighted four values that mentors should follow in the Harvard Business Review article, “What the Best Mentors Do”. Check out the article for a deeper explanation of the following four principles.
Put the relationship before the mentorship. Mentorship relationships need to be authentic. A basic relationship should exist between the mentor and mentee. Mentors should provide a safe and comfortable relationship in order for mentees to share information and have an open and honest conversation.
Focus on character rather than competency. Mentors should focus beyond the job skills and help to shape a mentee’s ethics, values, self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect.
Shout loudly with your optimism, and keep quiet with your cynicism. Good mentors encourage exploration of unique ideas. As a mentor, consider thinking about all the reasons a mentee’s idea is good, before giving reasons why it’s unrealistic.
Be more loyal to your mentee than you are to your company. The best mentors are fully and selflessly committed to the best interests of the mentee. Help them uncover their passion and encourage them to reach their fullest potential.
WHF-PA members submitted some personal accounts of how their mentoring relationship has helped shaped their careers.
“Dina Schlossberg, a WHF PA member, has been my mentor throughout my career in affordable housing and community development. She has always helped me think through career opportunities and changes and been generous with her support and time. With her as my example, I have tried to pay it forward by offering mentoring to other women (and sometimes men) in the industry. In considering or making career decisions, I usually consult somewhat widely, but I always turn to Dina as I am making final decisions.
I think I have a mutual mentorship relationship with Karyntha Cadogan, a WHF PA member and fellow Steering Committee member. I have at times mentored Karyntha and she has at times mentored me. We provide career decision support to one another and serve as cheerleaders to each other. I think many others in WHF PA have benefited from Karyntha’s webinars on advocating and negotiating for yourself and I count myself super lucky that I get the webinars plus the ongoing friendship and cheerleading to help me advocate and negotiate for me.” –Chris Paul, WHF-PA Member
“I had learned in college that everyone needed a mentor, but I initially struggled with finding one. One year, I saw Carla Harris, from Morgan Stanley, speak at the NJ Governor’s Conference. Inspired by her, I read her book “Carla’s Pearls.” In it, she explains that we all need to be intentional charting our professional relationships – cultivating both mentor and advocate relationships. To drive home the need for advocacy, she taught me that some of the most important decisions about my career were being made by people when I was not in the room. One of the most powerful questions she asked was, “What are people saying about you when you are not in the room?” I asked this very hard question to myself and answered, “Nothing.” I was 31 and always muted in professional settings, doing nothing more than smiling and echoing other people’s words. I was trying to disappear, but all was not lost. I used this aha moment to increase my industry acumen, and I started to be more intentional about how I presented myself professionally. I trusted myself.
Thankfully, Carla’s book explains how to find mentors and advocates, and she also discusses the differences between a mentor and an advocate. I realized then that I had plenty of mentors who shared technical industry-related information, but I had not even considered having an advocate or the kind of mentors who could help me design my career path.
I learned that I could create and place my own advocates, people who actively influenced my ability to be seen and heard in the spaces where I wanted to be seen and heard. I could also be an advocate for other people.
One person who was primed and ready to be my mentor and advocate is Chris Paul. Once my manager, she went the extra mile, after I had moved to Michaels Development Company, to nominate me for a Young Leaders award in 2010. When no one in my company or life had thought enough of me to nominate me for something that I would have thought was beyond my reach, she did it for no other reason than she saw something special in me and recognized that people (women) are often not seen without the extra assistance. I am forever grateful to her for this and many other steps she has taken throughout my career to cheerlead me, push me, teach me, and share with me. As I have grown in confidence, I thankfully have grown my own voice and love using it to support other people’s career growth. I especially love sharing with Chris and my WHFPA network. Please contact me!!” – Karyntha Cadogen, WHF-PA Member
“I still remember being a recent college graduate with an eager spirit, hungry to learn and grow in my field. Earning a college degree was my entrance ticket to the organization. However, soon I realized that there was so much to learn, yet little support for growth. My mentor was crucial to my success as an individual. The most important part of that relationship was that we both believed in each other. Overtime, I grew as a leader, increased my ability to contribute above and beyond what was expected of me, but most important there was a bond that will never be broken or forgotten between us.
When we think of individual growth there is a balancing act between two opposite energies, the act of giving and receiving. Mentoring is a relationship that promotes growth for both the mentor and the mentee. There are some of us that have the privilege to have achieved all those goals that were once just a dream with ease. However, there are others that are highly qualified but need support to make connections, exchange ideas, learn from other past mistakes, and just become a well-rounded professional in their field.
Mentorship will provide a strong foundation that will support growth and plant the seed of servant leadership, but most important, it will ensure that the next generation of rising leaders gain broader and stronger opportunities to succeed today and generations to come.” – WHF-PA Member
Do you have personal stories of a mentoring relationship that you would like to share? We would love to hear them and share them with our membership!
Are you looking for a Mentor? Are you interested in being a Mentor? Send us an email! We will follow-up with you to get more information on your background, interests, and needs to help you building a relationship with a fellow WHF-PA member. firstname.lastname@example.org