Having trusted mentors who can provide you objective feedback and advice is essential. Even more valuable is having mentors with similar experiences who can support your journey.
“Cultivate Mentors” is one of the essential 12 behaviors and actions to adopt and practice from Success in the Technology Field that will help you to advance or prepare for a career in technology. The twelve recommendations involve adopting crucial behaviors that apply throughout your career, as well as specific actions you should take at different stages of your career.
It is difficult for many of us to objectively see ourselves the way others view us. We all have strengths to leverage and weaknesses that need addressing. Yet many of us struggle to understand ourselves, particularly in terms of what those weaknesses are, let alone how to address them. A mentor can be very valuable in helping you understand your strengths and weaknesses. But a mentor is not just a friend or colleague who provides you understanding. A mentor is willing to have difficult discussions with you, offering advice on how best to leverage your strengths and address your weaknesses.
Cultivate Mentors for Success
You should work to cultivate mentors in all aspects of your professional career. Be humble and recognize that you can always improve, even in areas you consider your strengths. Make it an explicit objective to develop several mentoring relationships that can provide you coverage in all aspects of your work. A close and strong relationship of mutual respect and honesty is a great gift, but also an investment of your time and theirs, so choose and nurture each mentor with care and appreciation. Early in your career, in particular, you should aim to have at least one mentor in each of these areas:
1) subject-matter expertise;
2) appropriate business behaviors; and
3) interpersonal relationships.
How do you find suitable candidates and develop the relationships to the point where you feel confident even to ask a colleague to be a mentor? Take the following steps:
- Actively build your professional network—The larger and more diverse your network, the more likely you will have network members who could become mentors.
- Assess and develop a list of possible mentors—Identify individuals with whom you have a special rapport and who have the right experience. You must respect them, both for their judgment and what they have accomplished.
- Ease into a more formal mentor relationship—Be judicious. Some individuals don’t feel comfortable in a formal mentor relationship or want to become that intimate in sharing themselves and their experiences.
Having several mentors at any given time in your career can be extremely valuable and enlightening. It is natural for us, as humans, to overplay our strengths and downplay our weaknesses. Having trusted mentors who can provide you objective feedback and advice is essential. But having mentors who can support your journey, based on their similar experiences, is even more valuable. Recognize that as you progress, the makeup of your mentors will shift. That is okay and to be expected. Remember that no matter what your seniority, mentors can still be valuable to you. Please make it a habit to continually be on the lookout for individuals who might be mentors, whether now or potentially sometime in the future.
Success in the Technology Field: A Guide for Advancing Your Career
Success in the Technology Field is a practical “how-to” guide for a career in technology. It presents a holistic model, incorporating skills and behaviors that help you define and attain your career goals, whether you aspire to be an executive, a leading technologist, or a successful product salesperson.
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