Do you really need a mentor?
For someone that has been in the same industry for over a couple of decades, I am absolutely certain the answer to this question is a resounding yes!
If you pause to reflect, throughout your life, there will have undoubtedly been people along your journey to have inspired, motivated, constructively criticised and championed you to help you get to where you are now.
A mentor can be anyone: a teacher, parent, colleague, sibling the list is endless – the main requisite is a person who is passionate to help others in becoming experts in their field.
Support is key and the definition of a mentor that resonates with me is that:
“Mentors provide guidance, advice, feedback, and support to the mentee, serving variously as role model, teacher, counselor, advisor, sponsor, advocate, and ally, depending on the specific goals and objectives negotiated with the mentee.”
Source: UC San Diego
The relationship between mentor and mentee is built on trust, respect and understanding Communication is key for both to thrive; and the mentee can ‘get’ as much out of their role by providing this support and knowledge as the mentee receives.
I don’t have a coaching qualification but I don’t see that as a necessity. What is more important is the expertise I share and the relationship building I commit to.
It is important for a mentor to have confidence knowing they are doing things correctly in whatever they set out to teach. There isn’t necessarily one way of achieving something so it is important they can acknowledge there are several ways to be able to complete a project or task.
We aren’t all the same
People’s brains work differently.
Just because I set out to organise a project meeting one way, it may not be the best way for another.
Two heads are better than one and an opportunity presents itself in that the mentor and mentee can learn from one another.
There are distinct roles they can offer in order for the relationship to have longevity.
Even when a person ‘moves on’, it is often the case that a mentee will have their mentor in mind to seek advice from time to time as their paths diverge.
The reason for this might be because, despite people approach things differently, once the mentor / mentee relationship is established and works well, the bond between the two people will remain.
The Mentor's Role
Whilst a mentor can learn from a mentee, they have a huge responsibility to lead by example and be a positive role model. Unless a mentor is 100% behind doing the best they can to develop another person, the journey for them should stop there.
Often, a mentor is working with someone that might lack confidence in either themselves or their skillset so it is important that a positive and empowering approach is implemented.
My advice for a mentor / mentee relationship to work really well is the mentor adopts the most effective way they see a mentee being receptive of doing things in their experience and remaining open to all ideas that are put on the table.
Experience gained by the mentor is key: the more they have ‘been around the block’ the better. They will have made their own mistakes and learnt from others themselves, whilst building their knowledge and skills. In turn, they have become better and now have the opportunity to pass the baton on to help develop a better assistant yet.
The Mentee’s Role
Watch, listen and learn.
Provided a mentee enters the relationship with an open mind, willing to listen, contributing with ideas and determined to be ‘best in class’, being a mentee will be one of the most rewarding learning experiences a person can have.
An open mind will lead to great things and knowing that a mentor has a mentee’s best interests in mind can only create a positive and educational experiences.
Mentees of mine might have described me as quite particular. I make no apology for this because, if I didn’t demonstrate discipline, attention to detail and good work ethic, I would walk away knowing I have not done my best to help someone as passionate as I am about my work.
I feel reassured that my approach has been complimented with gratitude that the way I do things (with high expectations) only help the people I have worked with to improve, develop and perfect their craft.
There are many ‘assistants’ out there, however, there are few that are ‘superstar assistants that have what it takes to be resilient as well as getting the job done to the highest expectations.
It’s just me!
Who do you go to when you need advice when you are your own business owner?
It can be overwhelming to some that ‘go it alone’ as they have long periods of time by themselves and having to debate with themselves as to the best direction to take.
There is no need to feel isolated. In fact, being ‘in charge’ of your own business should feel great. A business owner can build a team around them, it just takes a little more effort to engage with people as they are not based at desks surrounding yours.
There are networking groups that have some supportive people within them, championing them from the side-line that could be a perfect mentor.
The most rewarding experiences I have undoubtedly had in my career has been recruiting, managing and mentoring Assistants, teaching and developing them, supporting them in their growth and allowing them to spread their wings to fly their own skies with confidence and greater knowledge.
I love the excitement I feel when those who choose they are ready for that next step want to work with me to elevate their career.
What gives me that buzz and excitement? I have always loved sharing what I am good at.
I am at my happiest when I am a factor in other people’s development.
Born to help others, I teach them how to do the things I do and have worked hard to be good at.
I recognised my love of sharing knowledge and skills with others at a relatively young age.
This might be because I went to a boarding school, an environment that I found myself in competition for much of the time. Inter-house competitions, merits, awards; they were all part of my daily life from the age of 10.
Fortunately, for me, I thrived on what could be described as a pressurised silo and I chose to put my efforts into something I enjoyed because life in a strict all girls’ boarding school often became boring.
Throughout my teenaged years, I coached younger people to play sport to a high level. I taught basic lacrosse skills during breaktimes to those that had never picked up a stick or wanted to improve their technique.
Our boarding house was small so rather than the traditional ‘trials’ for teams, we had just about enough people to field a team and we strived to do well (and rightly, felt proud that we often did). Some of the girls that I worked with went on to represent the school and county.
During my GCSE History and Appreciation of Music, I was required to teach two people the piano from scratch. Whilst challenging, I created basic ‘easy to follow’ workbooks and we met once a week as I delivered their lesson, recording their progress.
Both were very different people in the way they preferred learning and this was probably the first time I acknowledged that if teaching can be personalised, it is more likely to achieve maximum effectiveness.
As Head of House, I led a team of just over 30 people in events, competitions and in general day-to-day living. At the age of 16, this experience set me in good stead for how to approach people who were being led and how ‘to get the best out of them’.
An institutional approach, older girls looked out for younger ones who needed someone to look up to. The idea was to empower them to be able to grow in confidence and be their own person. The mentor / mentee relationship started early for me, and others at the same school, and we learnt very quickly how to get best out of others to live as harmoniously as hundreds of girls can in one place!
A few years later, after school and university, at the time I was completing my Executive PA Pitman Diploma, I was asked to help other students complete the course. The leaders of the course recognised by work ethic and approach to my studies which was described as logical and efficient.
During my corporate career, I hired, trained and mentored support staff at all levels; one went on to win an award, others continue successful careers in senior positions.
This is what I have found most rewarding in my career to date.
To meet, interview, hire and then develop people to be able to work in a demanding role, in a disciplined and proactive way, allowed me to show that I had consolidated all the skills I had learnt from the past, not just professionally but also personally, to allow someone to grow in confidence and carry out what they had set out to do.
Their feeling of empowerment created a huge sense of reward and achievement for me.
Today, I continue to offer my expertise, gained over decades, to those that want to hear from someone, first-hand, how to be a successful Assistant.
How can I help?
Open your mind and let me in.
You are either a Virtual Assistant and your own Manager who is responsible for all departments: Finance, Marketing, HR, IT, New Business and all the other areas that are required to run a company and enjoy it but miss being able to talk through things with someone else or are lacking confidence in certain aspects of your role.
You might be a corporate Executive Assistant or Personal Assistant who feels an expert, independent of your environment, could build your confidence to exceed expectations of the executives you manage.
I have been fortunate to have been in a position to impart my knowledge so that those wishing to become an expert executive assistant / personal assistant, they can use my experience and skills to take on as they wish and adapt as appropriate to their working styles.
I continue to love teaching. I want to share my knowledge.
Are you ready to fly?