Why Mentors Are Crucial For Entrepreneurs

As Suzzanne Uhland has previously asserted: it takes a lot to thrive and succeed as an entrepreneur. Startups, and by extension entrepreneurs, are constantly looking for new ways to achieve their goals, thusly breaking all the rules and making a myriad of mistakes in an effort to drive their businesses forward. Thus, and as previously mentioned in this blog, seizing the help of a mentor stands out as something invaluable.

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Launching a startup and becoming a great, inspiring and successful entrepreneur is a journey full of advantages and disadvantages: as aspiring business and company-developers, entrepreneurs always happen to find themselves in situations where the most common feeling is highly related to disorientation and not knowing what to do; however they do understand the importance of always staying in motion pushing towards their goals making decisions irrespective of the possible outcome.

Without someone pointing them in the right direction—or a mentor, so to speak—, entrepreneurs often end up making terrible mistakes, especially during the early stages after launching their businesses. These circumstances suggest that the smaller the business, the faster they need to keep moving regardless of the challenges that lie ahead.

Talking about challenges, it is undeniable that the journey of becoming an entrepreneur is full of them, and that should be taken for granted. Thus, having good mentors and someone to reach out to for advice becomes no less than essential. A good mentor’s words and advice will help entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts to take action within imperfect circumstances—if there is such a thing as perfect circumstances, though—, because they not only provide a different point of view but also can give extra confidence to keep moving forward without doubts and hesitation. In short: they help entrepreneurs execute rapidly on time delicate and sensitive decisions in an attempt to keep moving towards the main goal.

The journey of succeeding as an entrepreneur is also a journey of gathering a myriad of information—thinking pragmatically of the long-term—. Getting all the data needed to keep moving forward in order to make the best decisions is something that, although can be done without reaching out for help, is something best done by seeking a mentor for help and advice before recklessly making those decisions. Bear in mind that mentors are individuals who have likely already been through the exact same, or similar, situation, therefore, their help is invaluable.

As formerly mentioned by LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, the essence of today’s entrepreneurial journey and the challenges often under its scope can perfectly be described by a simple metaphor: startups, and the decision to become an entrepreneur is like jumping off a cliff and assembling an aircraft on the way down. Thus, entrepreneurs cannot simply assume they have all the tools to assemble the aircraft alone, all by themselves, which is why mentors embody a great source of information and advice.

What makes a good mentor stand out? Well, there are certainly different aspects and characteristics. Here are two of them:

A good mentor possesses high-level expertise

A good mentor is someone who possesses a valuable set of skills and expertise, often in the same skills entrepreneurs lack. This demands a lot of self-awareness from the side of startup enthusiasts, for big names and titles do not always mean an individual will serve a good purpose as a mentor. Industry veterans are not systematically the perfect match, rather, entrepreneurs should set out identify those individuals who underwent really tough situations that demanded actual work and tons of hustle. Do not just pay attention to fancy names, look for the skills that are needed to pursue the dream.

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Mentors often highlight the importance of making a long-term oriented partnership in order to maintain momentum throughout the stages of the process, especially the early stages. There is an undeniable difference in pace between already well-established businesses and smaller companies. This means that smaller businesses need to move faster to ensure they reach a conclusion.

A good mentor is someone who succeeded as an entrepreneur

This is quite obvious, yet often disregarded by today’s entrepreneurs. And although it may sound a bit biased, it is undeniable that there are mentors who have been—or still are—entrepreneurs. Success is something that can be measured in a plethora of different ways, but real mentors have likely walked in the exact same shoes and taken the same steps than today’s entrepreneurs. In order to determine whether a mentor is a good fit, it is quite good to assess whether entrepreneurs see themselves succeeding just like their mentor has. It is much easier just to follow an advice that comes from someone who has made a name for himself by doing something similar—they kind of stand out as the living proof that legitimizes all the efforts that are needed to achieve whatever entrepreneurs want to achieve.

* Featured Image courtesy of Startup Stock Photos at Pexels.com

Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart.

Mentoring relationships come in all shapes in sizes, like we have discussed before here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, and that means that while no two mentorships are alike there are some common factors they share in order to be successful. With that being said, it is important to also understand that not all mentoring relationships are as successful as others and that there are mentors who truly make a difference when compared to their peers.

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It is an honor to be chosen to be someone’s mentor. There is a lot that goes into that responsibility and those who truly care never take it lightly. A mentor is a highly influential figure in someone else’s life and the support they give is extremely valuable and important in helping their protégées get ahead and reach their full potential.

Understanding the full potential of a mentor and the immense responsibility it carries with to fill those shoes in someone’s life can be daunting and overwhelming, and accepting that fact is the first step that proves that you will make a difference as a mentor; the trepidation for fear of getting it wrong.

Mentoring isn’t easy and being great at it is even more difficult. A great part of it has to do with a correct match between mentor and mentee and the idea that each one of the parties involved in able and willing to give the partnership their best and contribute with everything they can. However, even a great match up is only part of the issue, there are many things that mentees just like mentors must bring to the table and contribute to the partnership in order to not just to succeed but also to stand apart from the rest. Helping others may be easier than you think, but creating a truly lasting difference takes a lot of hard work.

One of the first things to consider is the fact that great mentors are involved and take real actions towards the evolution of their mentees. Mentors who care about the people under their wing and about doing a great job at mentoring are known for taking risks and getting their hands dirty when it’s time to get the job done. Anyone can talk about great mentoring, but only a few can back those words with real meaningful actions and that is one of the most important things that make a great mentor.

A great mentor doesn’t just solve situations for their mentees; they actually find ways to challenge them and help them believe in their own abilities and their capacity to get ahead and figure things out on their own. A person who pushes you is a person who is in a way forcing you into a situation that will help you find the better side of you and polish your skills to be better or even find skills you didn’t even know you had.

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A great mentor is real. Mentors do not pretend to know everything as they are well aware of their own shortcomings and will help their mentees utilize the experience they have accrued over the years. It is a reality that you may not be able to learn from other people’s mistake, but it is worth a try and going against that approach pretty much negates the entire point of having a mentor. Experience has its good and its bad sides and you must embrace both of them in order to truly learn. A great mentor will not simply sit there and tell you stories about their glory or show you how successful they are. A mentor who cares is someone who sees the value in defeats just as they see it in victories, especially when it comes to their own experiences.

A great mentor knows how to communicate. Body language and nonverbal queues are ways great leaders and especially mentors must dominate in order to communicate efficiently. Your job as a mentor is that of guiding, advising and inspiring and that is why you must learn to be an effective communicator and someone with high emotional intelligence. These skills are not just great for mentoring, but also for any type of leader and for someone who is trying to advance their career like is the case with mentees who seek a mentor’s help. Being a great example of an emotionally intelligent individual is a great way to pass down those skills.

To sum up, a great mentor is a person who understands the importance of teamwork and communication in a relationship as important and influential as mentorships are. They are dedicated, patient, firm and inquisitive about their mentees and their journey and understand overall the importance of allowing people to grow by giving them a chance to shine and not withholding the experiences that have made them who they are today, even if those experiences aren’t always pleasant.

How to make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor?

It is well-known that mentors are important characters that help with the professional development of individuals. This is not an exception for law students who plan to one day become successful attorneys or start their own law firms. Mentors help to break that gap between experienced attorneys and the ones who just graduated from law school.

Mentorship needs to be a both-sided relationship between two individuals: the mentor and the mentee. Mentorship should be enriching and mutually beneficial. However, it is important to consider that all mentors needed to be mentees and that is why it is so important to find the right mentor. Depending on the type of mentor you have will be the type of mentor you will become.

In order for mentees to become great mentors, they need to receive great knowledge from their mentorship experience. Wisdom and useful advice are also important to set some standards and references for the future law mentor.

In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will review what is to be a law mentor and how do mentees take that step to become successful law mentors.

Related: How Mentors Inspire Their People Everyday

Being a mentee

As a mentee, your responsibility is to choose a mentor that can actually suit your needs. This is very important in law since you are only allowed to specialize in certain fields under that approval of a mentor. A mentor is not necessarily someone who sings in for the role. It can be anyone you are close to during the last years of law school or right after graduating from it.

Many mentors come in the shape of superiors who happen to work at the same place that you do. This is why it is very important for you to be surrounded by professionals that can give some key information and advice to your formation. This means that as a mentee you probably won’t have a boss who is constantly lecturing. But, a figure who is always willing to answer questions and help you grow professionally.

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Sometimes, those who once were mentees and now are mentors look back at the history and realize that some of their best mentors were not formally described as such. They were individuals with whom they could hold an enriching professional relationship with.

Those who are about to become mentors after being mentees should always keep in mind the important pieces of advice they once received from their mentors. Being a law mentee is about having the opportunity to observe, meet, and building long-lasting relationships. This happens because in the future you will want to share your skills, knowledge, and connections with those you are mentoring.

Becoming a mentor

Having said that, how do you make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor? There are different answers to this question.

First, as a law mentee, you will have many mentors along your career. This will mean that you will know many attorneys and they will know you back. Having a nice background is highly important to become a successful attorney.

In many cases, a former mentee who is now a successful attorney will become a mentor by simply helping those individuals who just got out of law school. This way, the person who used to be a mentee will start to give hints, advice and pass knowledge to a new generation of attorneys who are eager to learn. This mentor – mentee relationship won’t be formally established but will help the mentee take the right path.

Another way for a former mentee to become a mentor is thanks to the law-student decision. It has been said that mentorship is a both-sided relationship. This is how many law-students or recently graduated lawyers look out for the type of mentor they want to have. After this research takes places, they will approach to their potential mentor to start a mentorship relationship.

When both the mentor and the mentee feel comfortable and find common ground to grow a mutually beneficial relationship, the mentoring process starts. However, this is not yet a formal mentoring relationship. It is an agreement between two people on the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

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The last way in which a former mentee can become a law mentor is by actually growing as an attorney. This will mean that the attorney will have a determinant background in the law practice. Also, it will mean that it is a successful and knowledgeable figure. When this happens, usually a law association spots the former mentee and offers it to become a mentor.

There are some associations in the United States who are dedicated to helping law-students become experienced and well-rounded professionals. These associations look for mentor candidates based on the student’s needs and want.

Bottom line, there is not only one way in which a law mentee could become a mentor. It is a process in which knowledge is gradually gained. It is also a new step that needs to be taken in order to help the new generations of attorneys to come be successful.

Mentoring a teleworking team: A new and necessary challenge

The Internet is the cause of many of the social and cultural changes we face today. One of them is the way of working. This information technology has made many people prefer to work from their homes and other remote sites, rather than doing their labors from an office. In fact, several companies no longer have large headquarters, and most of their employees operate from home. In other words, the Internet has made companies more intangible (and perhaps more efficient because of this.) In consequence, the task of directing and mentoring the employees of a company must change. It is one thing to do mentoring in a traditional company (even if the mentor must travel from one city or another country to visit his or her mentees,) and another thing is to do it through Skype.

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So, in this post, I will analyze this situation and give some useful tips for a successful virtual mentoring.

Telework is an evidence that a company is primarily communications; a communications network, more than a group of people operating in a physical facility. This type of organization takes advantage of new technologies so that both parties, workers, and employees, can benefit from them. Telework offers a number of advantages, indeed.  It allows an employee, consultant, or contractor to work remotely from his or her home or another chosen place during a few days or the entire week. It is also an option for those days when an employee must attend to personal matters that will only require a reduced part of the day. However, teleworking may be quite challenging both for mentors and employees, since there is a lack of physical control over the mentoring processes, and some employees usually mix work and personal life, and it complicates their performance.

So, mentoring and managing teleworking employees requires a very concrete approach to what it means to ‘stay in touch.’ It requires a results-oriented management style with good planning performance of all employees.

Read also: What Can Mentoring Do For Me And My Career?, by Suzzanne Uhland

It is necessary to establish clear communication and to take additional steps to build proper trust and evaluation processes. Many corporations employ remote teams, and the manager communicates daily with his or her colleagues, as well as the employees in different parts of the world, not just by phone or email, but thanks to a set of new Internet-based tools, like WhatsApp. However, and mainly due to fears and lack of custom, many executives still find it very difficult to manage remote equipment.

In order to get the most out of your teleworkers team, you need to establish clear and regular communication to build trust and evaluating that the employees are working efficiently. It is important to keep in touch with them, and not only when it comes to business: Use webinars for training them, spend some moments of your day to ask them how it is going with them. Keep thing human.

Now, setting up tasks via email and providing an urgent contact channel is fine. But it may be much better if you use video conferencing software to which everyone has access, like Skype and Hangouts, because it allows you to see faces and to normalize relationships. It is important to keep in touch periodically. How much? Hold such meetings once a week, short and effective communications. Choose a day and an hour that suits most or, if necessary, divide your remote employees by time zones and create work groups. The ideal time may be early Monday to plan everything up from the beginning of the week, or maybe on Friday afternoon to check the evolution of goals and setting new targets for the next seven days of work. The important thing is ‘to bring them together,’ whatever day it may be. We are humans, social beings, we need this. In addition, this helps to impose schedules and thus contributing to the organization and overall responsibility.

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Technology is a great ally for business and opens many doors that would otherwise remain closed. It is basic to increase productivity and strengthen ties. But, again, you are working with people, and it is important to socialize in person. Just checking that everything is going well (or not) is never enough. They should feel an essential part of the company, and it is worth making an effort to meet them personally. It complements the daily emails and the weekly video conferences with face-to-face meetings between the local staff and the workers that operate from other parts of the world. Collect them in the same place. Buy the tickets and cover the expenses. Organize trips to the central office so people can meet in person and chat even once a year. It is their company, after all, so make them feel at home.

It is also important that you keep updated about the new technological developments for improving your communication. Telework mentoring is more than writing and checking emails. Be always curious about what can the new tools do for your business.

Recommended: Mentoring Virtually in a Teleworking Environment

How To Boost Your Career By Mentoring

Mentoring is a practice that is becoming more commonplace today in companies that are successful and also care about the development and growth of their employees in both personal and professional fields. Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we have explored the many reasons mentorships benefit the individuals involved in the relationship directly and how the company is indirectly greatly enhanced as well by providing the space, guidance, and motivation to harness mentoring as a tool towards evolution.

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In your own career progression, we are sure you can recall the times when you had to learn about a process or find a way to deal with a situation and realized you were faced with learning opportunities. After that, you became aware when these situations repeated themselves and were able to act accordingly based on your own experiences or if you were lucky enough, according to the teachings you received from a coach or mentor you had. Lastly, there is a time in which you are faced with being able to pass your knowledge down to others.

Teachings are in itself a very rewarding experience, but are there other things that I can expect to receive when investing my time and energy as a mentor? Are there other ways to boost my career by participating as an active member in a mentoring program and lending my time towards helping mentees grow personally and professionally?

Teaching is learning

Teaching is a powerful tool that allows you truly gauge your understanding of how things work. People have a tendency to believe that they understand concepts better than they really do. Through teaching, you actually become aware of your understanding as you try to instruct others on procedures or ideas. When you show someone how to do something, you understand details that you may have overlooked before, and thus you gain a deeper understanding yourself and learn from your own instructions as a result.

Building bridges

Having a great relationship with colleagues and coworkers is something that greatly aids the progression of your career. This type of internal networking allows you to have a closer relationship with the people you share your work with and that way you can ensure that people are collaborating and looking out of each other. Mentoring is an excellent way to strengthen those bonds and to create new ones with incoming personnel that has just arrived at the company or who have started their progression through the ranks.

Seeing your worth

Mentoring helps you evaluate your own career advancement and gain perspective in how much you have accomplished. When you are a mentor, you can see how far you have gotten by sharing this time with people who is just getting started in their own profession. Being able to see how you can contribute to the advancement of others and how influential those contributions become is truly uplifting.

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Leadership development

As a mentor, you have to guide and oversee people from different backgrounds and with diverse sets of skills, something that will truly test the potential of your leadership and management skills. Everything about being a leader from the way you deal with adversity in the manner you communicate with others will be tested when you become a mentor. This type of practice will only make you a much more capable manager.

Learning new skills

Everyone you meet can teach you something new. In a mentor-mentee relationship, that statement rings as true as ever because both individuals are given a great opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from each other in a real-world environment. Do not underestimate how much you can receive from your mentees even when you are the one who is supposed to be mentoring because in most cases both of those terms are interchangeable.

The organization

When you help others become more competitive and advance in their careers, you are at the same time strengthening the organization and giving back to the profession. As a leader, you know that the accomplishment of the mission is just as important as the welfare of the members of the company when you mentor you are helping address both of these factors.

Talent retention

Talented individuals should be retained, and a company must do everything within their power for these people to not just stay in the organization, but to never feel like they have a reason to leave. Mentoring is one of the ways you can contribute to the creation of an environment that makes workers feel appreciated and valued by the company.

Seeing the bigger picture

Mentoring gives you the opportunity to gain perspective from different levels of the organization. Sometimes your own privilege as a senior employee blinds you from seeing the issues that other members must face. This insight is unique and extremely valuable and being in a mentoring relationship allows you to have direct access to that particular stream of information.

 

The Best 3 Approaches To Finding The Right Mentor For You

A good mentoring relationship is something that many successful professionals give credit to when asked about how they got where they are. The benefits of mentorships are clear, measurable and evident to anyone who decides to even examine the matter and talk to those who have personally been involved in one of these great professional partnerships. Great mentors are people who have decided to sacrifice some of their time and effort in order to help someone else excel and attempt to reach their full potential.

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That aspect in itself is already commendable, but it is worth mentioning as we have said numerous times here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, that the proper mentoring relationship is a two-way street in which both parties are rewarded from the interaction in different manners. 

A mentee doesn’t let all the responsibility resting on their mentor’s shoulder, on the contrary, one could argue that mentees should be even more involved in helping guide the discussion and steer the course of the partnership, while at the same time finding ways to give back to their mentor by also sharing their knowledge and providing feedback that is extremely valuable for the mentor to assess their own interpersonal and leadership skills. 

People with the experience will tell you that there are few things as rewarding as seeing that your efforts are paying off when you are helping someone else get ahead in life, but at the same time you feel that the relationship nourishes you and helps you understand how to be better at what you do and how to make the most of everything you have experienced so far.

One of the most challenging parts of mentoring is actually finding the right mentor, or better yet, knowing what to look for in a mentor in order to choose the best person for you and also someone who can benefit just as much as you will during the partnership. In this article, we want to talk about 3 aspects you should broadly consider to make the right decision about your mentoring relationship and where it should lead you.

Thinking about short-term

Where do you want to be a year from now? This is one of the most typical questions people get asked at interviews, but there is a reason for that. Short-term goals are easily attainable benchmarks that can help you measure success in a short amount of time and also be motivated by seeing your own advancement. Having a mentor that is a reflection of where you want to be in the short-term is an excellent way to adjust your sights and start marching in the right direction. This type of mentor is great for helping take on small tasks and projects at your level because their experience is very similar to yours and they understand where you are since they were there not that long ago. These mentors can also help you gain insight on the company and aid you in finding ways to make your transition smoother as you try to get used to the new environment. This relationship can be quite informal, and you can take charge on getting started by discussing it over a cup of coffee as you socialize and get to know other people in the company.  

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Looking further ahead

While the previous mentor can help you think about how to best carry yourself on a daily basis inside the company, this second mentor is a person who can help you project to where you want to be in five years. This person can help with advice on how to advance in your field and within the company and how to accomplish your short-term goals but will your sights further ahead. Mid-level managers are exceptional individuals to look at when trying to find a “five-year-ahead” mentor since they occupy the positions where you may see yourself in the future while you are still part of the company and they already have some experience under their belt to share with you. Engaging into one of these relationships is a bit more formal and should be planned ahead. Treat it as if it were an interview and keep in mind that the person may not want to engage due to time constraints and other possible factors.

A Career Mentor

This advisor is someone who can help you answer the tough questions about where you want to go with your career and the ultimate goals you want to accomplish. A career mentor may work inside the company, or it could also be someone who has been successful in your field and you admire professionally. They take time to find, and you may have more than one through the years, but the one thing they will have in common is that they will become important to what you do and their opinion will matter on the decisions you make. A mentoring relationship is something to be cherished and cared for if you want to make the most out of it.

What Can Mentoring Do For Me And My Career?

Mentoring just like teaching is an honorable endeavor in which someone decides to sacrifice some of his or her time to invest in the personal and professional development of another person. Mentoring programs can do wonders for a company not only by helping individuals become more competitive in the field and more prepared to undertake the challenges of the market but also by fostering an environment of wellness and loyalty towards the organization. Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked before about the importance of mentors for career development and how they can impact many aspects beyond the company’s competitiveness and employee morale.

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A good mentor is a person who is willing to share their time, knowledge, expertise and overall skills. They can help you find some perspective and find an angle that can give you a more positive outlook in life. Mentors truly care about the success of their mentees and know what they are talking about when they share their advice.

One of the most crucial aspects of a great mentor is the fact that even as they can be a great leader and help you achieve more with their guidance, they understand that they are not a finished product themselves. Mentors who are truly remarkable are people who are constantly growing and becoming better at everything they do. They are curious, inquisitive and do not settle for staying inside their comfort zone. Perhaps this is why we always talk about your responsibility as a mentee and what you can do to reciprocate inside the relationship.

Sometimes the most challenging part of mentorship is to actually understand its advantages and seek the relationship as something that you accept as a beneficial career move. Many times people are unable to identify the necessity and advantages mentoring can bring to them and overlook this amazing opportunity and that is why today we want to explore a little bit into what mentoring can do for you.

One of the most valuable aspects of mentoring is its ability to allow you to look at yourself in the mirror. What we mean by that is the fact that mentoring allows you to actually examine your weaknesses just as much as your own strengths. Your mentor is a great source of feedback that can help you identify things that you didn’t even know about yourself. This aspect can sometimes work as a double edge sword as it is the case with some people who believe they want to honestly examine themselves but are sometimes unable to deal with the repercussions. Maturity and willingness to accept well-intentioned critique is absolutely necessary to make the most out of this part of mentoring.

Another very important aspect of mentoring and probably the one that draws the largest amount of people towards these relationships is the search for knowledge. It is obvious that you do not know everything, as nobody does, but mentors are individuals with vast knowledge and experience that are willing to take their time to share it with you. Getting involved with mentoring and being open to acquiring new knowledge is the right attitude to have towards your own development. Remember that this is not a one-way street and just as you are learning from your mentor, you can teach them things you know better than they do. Mentoring is a very enriching experience when it comes to sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas and skillsets.

The leadership skills you can pick up from a mentor are sometimes the best lessons you can receive without even thinking about it. Your mentor is a person that will teach you things, even while they are teaching because their example is one of the most valuable knowledge they can pass down.

In order to take advantage of the relationship, you must be vigilant and observe the way they do things and their reasoning behind the decisions they make. Think about it, they are people who have been successful in your same field and individuals you most likely look up to. Professional growth is just one part of the package and you must also grow as a person to further develop your career.

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Last but not least, a mentor is a great refuge where you can be completely honest and talk about the things that you do not understand or bother you without fear of the consequences of your candor. A mentor can give you a unique point of view from their leadership role and perhaps help you understand why some decisions are made at their level that you may not share or disagree with; all of this without risking upsetting your supervisors with your questions or your own discomfort with the situation. Mentoring is a great way to put yourself in the shoes of a leader and know what it takes to make the hard choices so you can be prepared for when the time comes in which you have to make those choices yourself.