Having a successful career is more than climbing the corporate ladder and making lots of money. While these things are important, an impactful life is about continuity and paying it forward. What knowledge and resources can you offer that will make life easier for the next generation?
Regardless of your level of expertise, there is another person who needs what you have. Passing your experience on to others, especially the younger generation, is good practice. Mentoring others build relationships and sharpens leadership skills.

The role of a mentor includes:

  • Sharing professional wisdom and performance guidelines
  • Serving as a role model
  • Advocating on behalf of mentees
  • Providing resources and opportunities
  • Listening to tales of professional disappointments and triumphs

You don’t have to wait until you become a CEO or multi-millionaire to become a mentor. The good news is you can begin where you are with what you have. Not sure where to start? Here are 5 ways to effectively mentor the next generation of leaders.

  • 1. Approach every mentorship in a different way.
    As a mentor, your primary goal should be to add value to the relationships with your mentees. After all, time is a valuable resource. You shouldn’t waste it by engaging in meaningless activities.
    That’s why it is critical that you learn as much as you can about each of your mentees. Knowing what is important to them will help you get the most out of each interaction.
    Some people need a mentor who only gives them constructive criticism, encourage and help them with networking opportunities. Others want new experiences. Identify the different needs of the people that you mentor.
    Getting to know your mentees is easy. Instead of guessing, just ask them what they need. Asking the following questions can develop a solid foundation for each mentorship.

    • What are your goals (long-term and short-term)?
    • What do you expect to get out of this relationship?
    • What is working well in your career?
    • Which part of your career could use improvement?
    • What can I do to help you achieve your goals?
    • What is your definition of success?
    • What are your interests and hobbies?
    • How much time do you have to commit to the mentorship?
  • 2. Encourage independent thinking and autonomy.
    When you give your mentees tasks to perform, they may be apprehensive at first. However, you need to give them a degree of autonomy. This gives them the opportunity to take chances and make mistakes.
    When you give them the freedom to complete tasks on their own, their confidence level soars. That way, they can leverage their skills extensively. They’ll find it easier to push their limits and share their unconventional ideas with you.
  • 3. Take time to build professional relationships with your mentees.
    A mentorship is an added responsibility to your professional and family duties. It can be a strain on your already busy schedule. However, you must set aside time on your calendar to connect with your mentees. If not, the relationships won’t grow.
    The internet, smart devices and email offer plenty of virtual communication opportunities. Here are a few ways that you can use these resources to connect with your mentees.

    • Send book suggestions and educational content via email.
    • Schedule virtual lunches or coffee chats via Zoom, Skype or another video service.
    • Send motivational texts on Monday to set the tone for the week.
  • 4. Provide opportunities for your mentees to showcase their skills.
    If you’re like most people, you feel good when someone celebrates you. Acknowledging a person’s hard work boosts confidence. Providing opportunities to display their skills shows your mentees that you believe in them.
    Ask them to write guest blog posts to publish on your company’s website. Give your mentees opportunities to speak at company events. Introduce them to colleagues who are looking for people with their expertise.
    These activities give your mentees experience in different settings. Additionally, they get a chance to network with people in a variety of industries. They can receive invaluable feedback that promotes professional development and encourages personal reflection.
    5. Encourage your mentees to pay it forward.
    Giving back to others helps you get better. This is why you are doing what you do. You should encourage your mentees to do the same. Once they are passionate about giving back, your mentees will enjoy investing their time and resources into others. Investing in others is the best way to pay it forward.
    At Corporate Counsel Men of Color, our mission is to provide a support network for men of color in a variety of professions. If you’re ready to make an impact on the next generation of leaders, join our organization today.
    Want to learn more about building effective mentorships? Explore the following resources.

    • The Mentor Leader: The Secret to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently by Tony Dungy
    • Managers As Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning by Chip R. Bell and Marshall Goldsmith
    • Mentoring 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know by John C. Maxwell

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