None of my family or friends are surprised that I give sound advice for a living. For as long as I can remember, I have been described as the “voice of reason” and people have been asking me for answers to their burning personal and professional questions forever.
Being a career coach for more than 20 years has provided me with the ideal opportunity to put that “voice of reason” to good use. Whether it’s in individual coaching sessions, small group facilitations, keynote presentations, backyard barbeques, high school reunions, plane rides, or networking events, I am always bombarded with thoughtful questions. I understand that the questions are significant and unique to that person and, interestingly, they frequently share common themes and threads.
The questions have covered resumes, interviewing, salary negotiations, office politics, self-sabotaging behavior, career mapping, job search strategies, toxic work environments, passion and purpose, mentoring, work-life balance, professional development, corporate culture, leadership styles, executive presence, public speaking, networking, branding and self-promotion, crucial conversations, multi-generational workplace, promotions, gender equality, career decision-making, consulting, family, life, and everything in between.
That’s why I am going to use some of these Woman UP! Wednesdays to answer your specific questions. Because if you have a question, I guarantee someone else is seeking the answer to that same question. These questions come from personal interactions, social media platforms, emails, and even “I have a friend…” scenarios. I promise to never use your real name, but I want you to know your brave and thought-provoking questions are helping other people.
This is a group effort and it takes a village, so let’s get started!!
I know that finding a mentor is important to my career success, but, as a woman, should I be looking for a male or female mentor? Does gender matter in this case?
“Mary” Seeking Mentor Matchmaking
The good news is that women are finally realizing how critical mentoring is to professional success and career trajectory.
Men have known this secret since the beginning of time. If you think about it, men have always taken someone “under their wing,” “groomed” the next guy, and have actively and openly built an “old boys’ network.” Now it’s our turn!
The greatest differentiator between male and female success is mentoring.
That being said, and to answer your question, NO it doesn’t matter if your mentor is male or female. What’s most important is that your mentor is the “right” person for you regardless of gender. The criteria, and number one priority, should be about aligning yourself with someone who has your best interests at heart, and that it’s an organic relationship built on mutual trust and respect.
Think about proactively seeking a mentor who is “thirty seconds” ahead of you…someone who is a few steps ahead of you on the career path you’re trying to create. Make sure the mentor is someone you admire, and someone you’d like to emulate in terms of behavior, characteristics, professional success, accomplishments, or life experiences. Male or female, your mentor should be someone you want to learn from and someone who can help you grow.
Ideally, you’ll have multiple mentors throughout your life at various times and for various reasons. And recognizing how critical mentoring is to your success, you would be doing yourself a disservice by limiting yourself to only women.
Here are the Top 10 Benefits of Having a Mentor…
- Identifies potential self-sabotaging behavior
- Shortens your learning curve
- Provides critical insight to office politics and personalities
- Assists with goal-setting and career decision-making
- Holds you accountable
- Is a trusted confidant, answers questions, and provides valuable feedback
- Opens doors and makes connections
- Boosts your confidence and serves as a cheerleader, champion, and advocate
- Shares personal experiences, successes, failures, and life lessons
- Models successful professional behavior and inspiring executive presence
Please use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, email, text, phone, or good old fashioned face-to-face to keep the questions coming! There is no topic that’s off limits, and no question that’s too big or too small. All questions are welcome, and I look forward to providing helpful answers as the Woman UP! “voice of reason.”