Mentoring Relationships: a fruitful investment

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Almost every lawyer and roughly most law students are familiar with the good practice of mentoring, in which a student or an attorney gets together with a more senior lawyer who provides advice and keeps them from being led astray in the competitive race towards success. Mentoring programs can be found everywhere; they are widespread because they actually work: they help students, young attorneys, and further careers while bringing together networks and professionals.

As attorneys become more experienced and start gaining the necessary expertise in order for them to be a vital and crucial part in law firms, corporate offices, and other organizations, their needs also become more specialized and, to some extent, sophisticated. However, the fundamental need for direction and assistance in sailing rather complex atmospheres and environments within law corporations still remains; nonetheless, students, enthusiasts, attorneys and more senior attorneys can meet these needs by developing the aforementioned networks and relationships.

Suzzanne Uhland as previously talked about the importance of resorting to mentors from time to time; mentors are definitely people who can get to play a crucial role in people’s success as a professional. They build the pathways to connect the gaps between theory and reality of how the professional workplace operates. A mentor can also be an excellent partner; mentors can help others develop the skills they need so that they can thrive in their careers. An effective and fruitful mentoring relationship can serve as the bridge to access needed resources and people —key people—. Likewise, mentees can avoid mistakes and reduce the likelihood of falling victim of inexperience. Besides, they can save some time in their attempt to ascend to senior positions within law organizations.

Nevertheless, even though the benefits of resorting to a mentor have already been proven, and even though people have increasingly been looking for this type of relationships, yet many lawyers assert, or have asserted, that they either do not have a mentor or that they rarely resort to a mentor should they have questions.

Many attorneys, students, and law enthusiasts are completely disregarding the opportunity to take advantage of good mentors and productive mentoring relationships mostly because their expectations do not match their reality. Besides, they also let these opportunities go unnoticed because they have a totally biased, exaggerated connotation about the intrinsic role of a mentor —when the expectations are not met, they totally distort the entire concept. Such premise is what often leads to a fatal event commonly referred to as career suicide: almost every successful attorney could assert that his or her success could be accounted for by the presence of a fruitful and productive mentoring relationship. This is in fact particularly true for females in top positions of their professions who often face different junctures of isolation due to their, comparatively low, numbers.

There are other cases where a sheer array of professionals firmly believe that mentoring relationships and resorting to mentors for advice are not important; however, it is important to point out that this phenomenon obeys to a flawed preconception about the term “relationship”. It would be nonsensical and naive to actually believe that a mentor or a professional who seeks to help others through counseling is some sort of a fairy godparent. Mentors do not possess some sort of magic wand in order to provide mentees with their dream job or a successful career; nor can they interact with the mentee’s environment and get rid of all the challenges and the difficulties they have to face in the race for success. With that being said, a good mentor is rather like a good lecturer: he or she is able to provide valuable and crucial information, resources and, more importantly, a much deeper sense of perspective. Their job is not to provide mentees with all they need, but to teach them how to get it.

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Some lawyers also value the time factor. Allegedly, they do not have enough time for them to develop such relationship. They constantly complain about the lack of time in their lives, which is why they ignore additional commitments —or, like they say: distractions—. And even though this might indeed be, to some extent, true, what lies behind the incapability to make room in their schedule is rather a mistake in judgment and poor time management. Career success, unlike the common connotation, is all about working smarter and not harder nor longer. If the opportunity presents itself, take it. If there is a chance to develop a positive and productive mentoring relationship that may come in handy when sailing across the different nuances of the professional life, take it: do not let it go unnoticed.

Taking advantage of what a mentor has to offer is perhaps one of the greatest investments people can make for themselves.

Mentoring According To Some Of The Most Famous Leaders In The World

One of the most important characteristics prosperous entrepreneurs and famous business leaders share in common is the understanding that success is not the product of a one-man show, but instead is the result of multiple efforts coming from many individuals who have a common goal and a shared drive to see those efforts realized.

Someone once said that mentoring relationships are often not mentioned by some entrepreneurs when they talk about their methods and their road to success because they believe this to be a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth, as having a mentor shows that you have a willingness to learn and that you understand that you are not yourself a finished product, but instead an individual who has yet much to learn and is eager to do something about it. That type of mindset shows great strength and a keen sense of responsibility, something that is commendable and that sets the right example for others to follow.

Famous mentoring relationships are common today as many of these names that have become a staple, talk about their mentors with fondness and give much credit to these partnerships by counting them amongst one of the most important building blocks of their own success.

Richard Branson – Virgin

Richard Branson’s appreciation for mentors come from his early age and the lessons learned from his eccentric uncle Jim. Branson talks about how he saw in his uncle this ability to understand things that others simply mocked and weren’t able to fully comprehend.

These teachings are something that has always characterized Virgin’s CEO as a man who takes risks and that looks at the world from a different perspective. It is important to note that some of those risks aren’t always successful, but the ability to look past the preconceived notions of others is a great virtue that one should nurture.

When it comes to business he also gives a lot of credit to Sir Freddie Laker, especially during his times of struggle while trying to get Virgin Atlantic off the ground. Branson knows that having the courage to admit that a mentor can help you is one of the trademarks of a great leader.

Mary Barra – General Motors

Mary Barra is another outstanding leader who has been successful against all odds, especially during a time when the automotive industry was struggling like never before. She believes in the strength of mentorship as a multifaceted strategy that should address several aspects of the individual. Not only worrying about the business side, but also the personal growth of both people involved in the partnership. Barra talks about the importance of building a network of mentors while having in mind your mid-term and long-term goals in order to map out strategies to get there. She also talks about not having to always look up to seek your sources of strength but to also look at your peers and your employees as prospective allies in your path to growth.

Mark Zuckerberg  – Facebook

More than 1 billion people are currently active on Facebook. When you talk about success, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO is one of the people you will most definitely think about. Mark Zuckerberg created a company that definitely changed the world and he attributes a lot of his success to one of the men who inspired him with his mentorship, that man was Steve Jobs. Jobs talked to him about the importance of building a team above anything else, and how it was so crucial to instill in that team a sense of accountability and focus on the mission at hand. It is important to understand that sometimes your mission needs to go beyond what it is that your company creates. He taught him about building something bigger than himself and being able to truly touch people’s lives.

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Bill Gates – Microsoft

One of the most famous mentoring relationships in the world is probably that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Both Buffet and Gates are in the list of the world’s wealthiest men, and they have both built their empires from very humble beginnings. Gates has mentioned in numerous interviews that he great appreciates the way Warren Buffett helped him to learn to think in long-term and how setbacks are simply part of the journey to accomplishing bigger and better things. He also talks about the man’s ability to break down complex situations into simple concepts that can be easily analyzed and explained.

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Bill Gates is not the only one who feels fortunate of having Buffet as his mentor. Warren Buffett himself admires the way Bill Gates handles wealth and how he feels that he has an intrinsic responsibility with the world and with using his position of privilege to change the world for the better.

For more great articles check out Suzzanne Uhland’s blog today.

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The Reasons Why Mentorship Programs Fail

Mentoring programs are becoming more and more popular as organizations continue to see the great advantages they can bring to their individual members and their company integrity as a whole. Mentoring relationships help junior employees find guidance, direction and a practical way to direct their efforts towards the advancement of their professional career and also their personal endeavors. Senior members can also find great benefits from being part of a mentoring program as they can hone their own leadership skills, learn new abilities and widen their network while making a real difference in someone else’s life. Companies see a lower turnover and a higher index of job satisfaction amongst employees when they introduce mentoring programs into the organization. So why is it that something that is so positive for all parties involved sometimes fails? What are the most common mistakes organizations make when establishing their mentorship programs? That is the topic we will look in depth today here, in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog.

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One of the most common mistakes made at the time of creating a mentoring program can happen right from the start. This mistake is a lack of a balance in structure. Remember in our other article when we talked about the necessary steps to take when creating a mentoring program? We mentioned that right from the beginning, you must set clear goals and try planning exactly what you want to accomplish with the initiative. With that being said, you start to create a structure that will make those goals become attainable and that structure has to be based on the type of mentors and mentees that you are going to have as participants of the program. You have to understand that different individuals have diverse preferences and communication styles. Sometimes, the person in charge of the program fails to take that into consideration and their structure ends up lacking in flexibility or sometimes it even becomes so relax that it could be considered inexistent. The trick is to reach a balance in the structure that helps those who need to maintain their discipline and that doesn’t get in the way of those who are more organized and are able to better manage their time.

Another big mistake to keep in mind is poor training given to mentors and mentees. The problem is that some organizations feel that all they have to do is give people the opportunity to team up and they stop there. That is not the way you go about making sure that your mentorships are successful because you are abandoning your people to their own devices and failing them as an organization. Sometimes there are external factors like geographical constraints that make it difficult to gather your people and have them attend training sessions, but there are other ways of getting it done using the latest technologies. In order to keep your program alive, you must nurture its most crucial aspect and that is the human component.

Poor matching is perhaps one of the main reasons why mentoring relationships fail. Matching criteria must go hand-to-hand with the purpose of the program. The problem is that sometimes that purpose is so vague that people fail to understand what they are looking for in a partner to start a mentoring relationship. You cannot blame your participants if you left them to choose blindly the person they are going to work with.

If the purpose of your program is clear, then you can identify possible candidates and start matching them before the initiative even begins. It is true that in most cases you want partnerships to be formed in a very organic way, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some planned component to it. Like we have said a few times before, it’s all about balance and finding the perfect dose of structure and freedom to choose.

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The last factor we are going to explore is the lack of clear benchmarks for success. This happens very often with companies that are hasty to start a mentoring program to meet some expectations but fail to realize the true responsibilities that come along with it and ignore the fact that the road to success is made out of many small stations along the way. Benchmarks are small goals that help track success and that motivate participants because it allows them to clearly map their improvement. Success must be measured and gauged so it can be repeated and so effective practices can be studied in order to implement them in other areas of the program.

This last part because an issue because sometimes organizations rush towards an end goal but forget that when it comes to mentoring it isn’t so clearly cut. What works for some may not be so evident for others, and while something may be seen like the norm in a company, it can be new territory to others.

 

How To Better Develop Your Leadership Skills With Mentoring.

Developing a manager is a process that never stops, just like you never stop enriching your own leadership skills, as it is a practice that never really ceases to take place. One of the most important things leaders must keep in mind, is that they are by no means a finished product and that the pressure of ever-changing business environments will always challenge them to reinvent themselves and to adapt to the constant evolution of the world around them. We are used to thinking about developmental training as one of the only ways for companies to continue training their members, but the problem with that is that it does disrupt every day operations, and while we look at it as an investment that pays off in the long run, we still have to find a way to cover the absence of those important individuals as they attend their training classes.

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So how do we train our valuable personnel while maintaining efficiency within the company and at the same time minding the budgetary constrains the organization may have? The answer is something that we constantly talk about here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, and that is a mentoring program.

We have talked about the many ways these programs can benefit your organization and also about ways you can polish up your mentoring skills to be able to offer your mentees the best opportunity to make the most out of the relationship and to see visible results on their investment. However, today we want to focus on an important fact that it often gets overlooked, and that is the other side of the relationship and how important it is to ensure that no matter what, mentoring partnerships never cease to be mutually beneficial.

Companies today understand more than ever, the need to have a robust program to develop leaders, as they are some of the most valuable assets you can find in your organization. Leaders can come from all different backgrounds and departments and sometimes, our own hindsight is to blame for us as a company missing an opportunity to collect a true diamond on the rough. Developing these leaders and giving the tools necessary to succeed, are some of the top priorities a company must observe in order to remain relevant, competitive and innovative in today’s fast changing environment. The answer to that dilemma has always been within our own structure and that is why mentoring programs must be given the proper place in the great scheme of things and their role when it comes to helping the company achieve its goals cannot be underestimated.

We all know a mentor is a person who chooses to lend all of their expertise and experience to guide another individual in their own advancement within the organization and also in their own personal and professional growth. What is important to remember here is that as both parties are members of the organization, this relationship greatly benefits their environment and propels the company forward.

Just as mentees are greatly benefited by borrowing all of that experience from an individual who has advanced much further than they have within their respective field, the mentor is also greatly profited by being able to learn from this other person and thus better himself or herself as well. Effective mentoring relationships rely on the willingness of both parties to challenge assumptions, ask questions and collaborate on finding the best way to tackle issues of concern.

Mentors can look at the mentoring relationship as incredibly valuable opportunities to use their leadership skills to influence others and at the same time receive greatly appreciated feedback on their own mistakes as a leader.

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We know leaders are people who must deal with a different set of challenges that arise from the human aspect of the organization. They must be specially adept at motivating others, make the most out of the feedback their receive and lead by giving a great example for their employees to follow. All of these aspects can be experienced up-close when we take a look at what a mentoring relationship is supposed to look like.

The self-reflection that can arise from dealing with common mentoring challenges can give you incomparable insight on your own abilities as a leader and thus become a powerful experience for growth. Also, the service that you are doing to your company is amazing, and there are few other ways that you can impact the achievement of organizational goals so directly as you can with the proper employment of a mentoring program. Something else to consider is the opportunity to build a larger network, the possibility to gain new knowledge as mentees often have different sets of skills that you may not possess and the chance to build confidence on your own leadership skills that must always be trained and harnessed.

8 Ways Mentoring Can Benefit Your Company

A mentoring program in the workplace is a great tool to provide junior or new employees with guidance about the organization, their place within the market and their own professional future. By having a mentoring program, a company can benefit its members throughout all levels of the organizational structure, something that logically will help the company grow and become more competitive and efficient.  

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Here in Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we have talked about many aspects of the mentoring relationship and how it benefits both parties involved, but today we want to use the opportunity to focus more on the organization. Companies are the breeding grounds of mentoring relationships and being such, they are also greatly benefitted by promoting, sponsoring and encouraging the continuous utilization of this amazing business tool. Mentors, employees, organizations and the professions involved are all beneficiaries of the great work that can be accomplished through mentoring and that is why companies that employ this tool and take it seriously can see the difference compared to those that choose not to.

Employee Career Development

Everybody knows that employees that are educated and given the time and tools to worry about their own career development, will become even more valuable to the organization and will most likely choose to stay on board longer. It goes a long way to educate your workforce as they will become more efficient and at the same time understand how much the company cares about their own future. Mentoring is a way to continue the education of your employees and enhancing their value for the organization.

Lower Turnover

As we mentioned before, happy and educated employees will stay with the company. The reduction of turnover rate is not something that is affected only by the training of your employees, but also by many other factors that makes them feel valued within the company. Your mentors are key into the reduction of those turnover rates as their advice is crucial to their mentees and their help building the skills necessary to stay relevant and overcome possible professional frustration and adversity.

Development of Company Leadership

Mentees are undergoing valuable training that is turning them into the future leaders of your company. At the same time, your current leadership is polishing their skills and facing daily challenges provided by their participation in the mentoring program. These programs are one of the greatest ways to enhance leadership skills in the organization without having to go outside seeking that training.

Time Saving

Mentoring programs are great at saving time spent finding solutions to challenges and answers to concerns that may be raised by your workforce. Mentors are also great tools for training your new employees and thus reducing the time they have to spend in formal training when taking a more “on-the-job” approach. This way of training is great because it introduces the employees to the challenges of the real world instead of the possible scenarios they can find in a training classroom. The quality of mentoring doesn’t compare and it will prepare your people better for what they will have to face in the market.

Diversity

Mentoring is a great way to bring employees together to share their opinion, knowledge, and ideas in a way that is not as formal and that allows for a more comfortable platform for an exchange of that information. We all understand the immense importance of a workforce that is diverse and that is able to bring all of those skills together in order to enrich their work experience.

Perspective

Mentors and mentees can provide each other with a unique perspective about the way they approach challenges. These types of exchanges are extremely valuable for all parties involved, including the company itself. Think about the way mentees are able to see things from the perspective of your customers more often than employees that have been with the company for long. That type of insight can also be reserved when a person who has been with the organization for a long time, is able to teach their mentee how the goals of the company align with everyday operations.

Networking

Business mentors occupy their position because of all the hard work and experience they bring to the table. It is obvious that these types of people understand the business environment quite well and can help mentees find contacts with people who may be the solutions they are looking for in their own predicaments. Companies are greatly benefited by having employees who are well connected within the organization just as much as if they are also well connected externally.

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Someone To Talk To

Mentors are great people for mentees to vent about their own frustrations within the organization in a way they feel safe and that will give answers considering not just one side, but instead the entire spectrum of the issue. Mentoring partners always work together to find solutions, so giving that opportunity to your employees will save you the trouble of people leaving your company because they feel they do not have a place where to voice their concerns.

 

The Best 7 Mentoring Relationships In Film

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or what your line of business is, the power of mentorship is something that must always be considered as a great tool in order to advance your personal and professional growth. In film, the mentor is a character who takes a back seat to the protagonist of the story and serves the purpose of providing guidance, training and always wisdom. Mentoring relationships in the movies are a powerful example of how the advice and dedication of an individual can make all the difference when dealing with difficulty and challenges. Just like in real life, these mentors help their mentees redirect their approach towards their particular trials and influence their course of action to aid them in becoming a better version of themselves. Today we want to talk about some of the most popular mentoring relationships in the silver screen so we can reflect on the lessons they teach us and see how we can apply them to our everyday life and our own relationship with our mentor or mentee.

Yoda and Luke Skywalker – The Star Wars Saga

Yoda is probably one of the most popular mentors in any movie ever made. He is the personification of what we imagine as a source of wisdom and guidance to our protagonist. What is so special about Yoda, is that he is a one of a kind character who not only mentors Luke Skywalker into becoming the hero he must be in order to lead the rebellion, but he also helped Obi Wan Kenobi become a great mentor himself.

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Mr. Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso – The Karate Kid

Mr. Miyagi will always be remember as the unorthodox mentor who has his mentee do household chores in order to teach him karate. What is important about this relationship is the respect and confidence Daniel has on his mentor and that even if he didn’t understand the point of his lessons, he was diligent, disciplined and always followed Mr. Miyagi’s advice and trusted his guidance, something that made him better even before he even noticed it.

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Gandalf The Grey and The Fellowship of The Ring – The Lord of The Rings.

Gandalf was a great mentor because he was kind and protective over his charges above anything else. He understood that each one of the members of the fellowship required a different type of leadership and helped them become a better version of themselves and rise to the challenges against all odds. Gandalf always believed in their inner strength even when things were bleak, and he was able to see potential in all of them, just like every mentor should.

Mickey Goldmill & Rocky Balboa – Rocky

The relationship between Rocky and Mickey is very special because here we witness that a true mentorship must be mutually beneficial. We think that Mickey is mentoring Rocky and helping him become better and that is it, but upon a close look we can also realized that Rocky is motivating Mickey as well by giving him a will to see himself reflected in a worthy fighter, a way to leave a legacy from his former glory.

Professor Charles Xavier & The X-Men – The X-Men

The headmaster and founder of the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is a paternal figure and a mentor to the young mutants who are rejected because of their special condition. Professor X teaches them to hone their special skills while at the same time helping them to become better members of society in order to make the world a better place. He understands that not everyone is the same and that they all have different gifts that require specialized guidance in each case.

Agent K and Agent J – The Men in Black

This is another excellent duo in which the mentor learns probably as much as the mentee in their relationship. While the older agent K is teaching his protégé how to open his eyes and see the world around him, he is learning about trusting his emotions and being more flexible in order to respond better to out of the ordinary situations. They both complement each other and become better individuals through this amazing partnership.

Chef Auguste Gusteau and Remy – Ratatouille

The relationship between Chef Gusteau and Remy is another wonderful example of a mentor helping us achieve greatness and showing us we should believe in ourselves. Remy is a rat in a world where cooking is an activity that he simply should not be doing, however, he knows that it is his calling and pursues his dream with the encouragement of the ghost of a chef who believed that greatness resides in all of us if only given the chance to shine.

For more great advice on mentorship and the importance of this great practice, check out our articles at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog today.