Training Magazine Middle East March 2015 - Page 15

Coaching and Mentoring

The ideal mentor is someone who you connect with and who understands you intuitively. An ideal mentor is also someone who you look up to and aspire to be like. So, the ideal mentor to a woman could be a man or a women.

I come across too many young, ambitious women who don’t have a mentor, and who don’t know when to start looking for one. So here are some suggestions.

How to find a mentor

Be clear

Be clear on what aspect of your career or around which goal you want to be mentored. Are you looking for mentoring around a specific project, or long-term career guidance? Being clear on what area of your career you are looking to be mentored in will help you identify potential mentors.

Be creative

Don’t look for the conventional or obvious choices. Think differently. Think creatively. You don’t need to look only in your industry. In the early years of my career, one of my mentors was from a completely different industry, but who had transformed his career through bold choices.

Build a relationship

Its crucial to build a relationship with a potential mentor, so that the mentor understands you and is motivated to mentor you. I once received an email from a complete stranger (she knew me), asking me to mentor her. Obviously that didn’t go down too well. Meet your potential mentor (in person if possible), and build a relationship. Respect their time. Never ask someone to be your mentor via email.

Set clear goals

Be clear about what your goals are and what you would like to focus on in the mentoring relationship. Share these with your mentor. Come prepared with specific discussion areas

Set clear goals and boundaries for your relationship as well. Decide on the frequency of the meetings, duration and location.

Be realistic about your expectations and never ask for more than what your relationship allows.

Finally, step up to be a mentor yourself. Pay it forward. Everyone has something to offer. You do too.

Too many women’s mentoring programs are grounded in the belief that women have to mentor women. They should. There is no doubt about that. However, male mentors are equally effective. The key is make sure that young ambitious women are being supported by mentors through their careers.

Neeru is the Founder and Managing Director of the Marya Leadership Academy FZE, a Dubai based coaching and leadership development firm focused on development of women into leadership positions across the Middle East and Africa Region.