Who Should You Follow? A Guide to Good Mentoring Relationships

August 19, 2017
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Mentoring offers benefits to everyone involved

My own consulting mentor says: “follow someone who has been there and done that”. Experience counts.

We recently took on one of our first consulting mentoring projects. Since our focus is on delivering growth and profitability for manufacturing and distribution companies, we work mainly with business-to-business. With that said, every consulting project involves some level of coaching – mentoring – to people working on those businesses to deliver results.

And since we consider results to be the 80/20 of our business, we put a lot of attention on coaching the appropriate employees (from line supervision to the executive team) to achieve a desired outcome. So when a consulting mentorship opportunity arose with a mentee who was serious about achieving results, we jumped on it. And, we are so glad we did!

How to form the best mentoring relationship

The mentoring situation brings up the idea of knowing who to follow. It seems like an obvious topic to consider yet I often find my clients following “undesirable” role models with the expected (and unfortunate) results. My own consulting mentor says “follow someone who has been there and done that” – not someone who can talk about what to do but has never done it before. He uses the example of a ski instructor. Would you follow a ski instructor’s advice if they could talk a good game but didn’t know how to navigate the black diamond hills? I wouldn’t either! It’s similar to looking for a cheap heart surgeon. Who would do that?

Search for mentors and coaches who can help you navigate the most complex issues that arise because they have experienced it before – or something similar that they can draw from.

Bottom line: Choose your mentoring relationship carefully. Look for professionals who talk the talk and walk the walk, people who deserve to be viewed as true mentors.

Like this article? Continue reading about how mentoring and teaching can help you in your own career.

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