Workforce of the futureDecember 4, 2023

The Power of Mentoring: Nurturing Growth, Shaping Futures

How joining a mentoring program marked a transformative chapter in my professional life and why I believe you should embrace mentorship as you progress in your career.
Avatar Els Van Langenhove

Does anyone really feel fully prepared for the next step in their career?

I guess I have always suffered from imposter syndrome, and while that was probably the case with each promotion, it obviously peaked when I had the biggest promotion in my career so far.

People around me said: “you can do this, it’s just more of the same” or “be confident, you got here for a reason”. Though whatever I heard, I could only see the reasons why I would not succeed and desperately wanted to get trained to cover for my shortcomings.

I thought I should probably follow an MBA, definitely get myself educated to cover for the technical knowledge gap, etc… I was convinced that I needed support.

So I turned to our learning and development team and they advised me to join the mentoring program.

Joining a mentoring program

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I trusted them – they probably already knew that the answer to my problem wasn’t going to be found in an MBA program 😉

So, I signed up and was matched officially with my first mentor.

Surprisingly enough, what I learned through that connection had nothing to do with technical knowledge or anything covered in an MBA… I just needed to find self-confidence, and that is exactly what my mentor helped me with: he helped me prepare mentally and managed to help me start believing in myself.

In the years to come, my self-confidence level still reached an all-time low, but through the support of an army of coaches, sponsors, mentors and mentees, it was rebuilt gradually to an all-time high. It’s been a long journey, and that mentoring program was exactly what I needed back then to push me in the right direction.

Key benefits of mentoring

Here are some of the key benefits of mentoring and why I believe it is an invaluable tool for anyone’s professional development.

  • Personal Development:

Beyond the acquisition of technical skills, mentors can help mentees identify their strengths and weaknesses. They provide guidance on how to leverage their unique talents and passions for career advancement.

  • Gaining Perspective:

One of the strongest aspects of mentorship is the ability to gain a broader perspective. Mentors can help their mentees see the bigger picture, beyond the daily grind, which can help them put things in perspective, anticipate challenges and make informed decisions.

  • Confidence Building:

Having someone believe in you and invest in your success can be a powerful confidence booster. Mentors provide constructive feedback and encouragement, helping mentees develop the self-assurance needed to take on challenges and embrace new opportunities. A survey by Sun Microsystems found that employees who participated in mentoring reported higher job satisfaction, increased self-esteem, and greater confidence in their abilities.

  • Mentoring Team:

Consider diversifying your mentorship portfolio. Seek out mentors who can help you develop different aspects of your life and career, who complement your strengths and weaknesses. Whether you need career advice, technical expertise, or personal development guidance, you can turn to a mentor whose expertise aligns with your needs.

  • Networking and Career Advancement:

Networking is vital to professional growth, and mentors can help you access a broader professional community. These connections can lead to career-enhancing collaborations and opportunities, whether it’s a job referral, a speaking engagement, or a chance to collaborate on a project. According to a study by Gartner, employees who receive mentoring are promoted five times more often than those who don’t.

  • Life-long Learning and Paying it Forward:

Mentorship goes beyond a quick 1 or 2-day leadership training, it often leads to lasting relationships. As mentees grow and achieve their goals, they often become mentors themselves. This cycle of support and guidance perpetuates a culture of learning and development.

Different mentors for different needs

What I love about mentorship is that each pair is unique and fulfils different needs.

While I initially needed a mentor who helped me find self-confidence, later, I looked for a mentor who could offer career advice.

Then there are the unspoken mentorships with people who became members of my advisory board and believe in me, promote me, or hold up mirrors whenever needed to help me stay on track.

And with people that have reached out to me over the years that offered me a seat on their board of advisors.

Mentoring is not just a professional transaction; it’s a journey of personal and collective growth. It leads to positive outcomes for businesses and workplaces as a whole.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking to share your knowledge or someone seeking guidance on their career journey, remember that mentorship is a two-way street.

It’s a partnership built on trust, respect, and a shared commitment to growth and success. As you progress in your career, embrace mentorship and support the creation of a supportive community of professionals dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.

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