At Engage Mentoring, we teach that everyone should have what we call a “Personal Board of Directors”, which means multiple people who can offer different perspectives that will help support you as you grow your career. Often, we think that we just need one mentor to guide us through life, but it’s so important to have these four different types of mentors at a minimum.
We encourage everyone to have at least one person that falls into one of these four categories. The first one that’s most often overlooked is called a peer mentor. This is somebody who occupies a role that is similar to yours, who is not necessarily in an advanced role, but they’re doing something similar and they inspire you. This is someone that you can go to for advice and perspective that will help you be more effective in the role you occupy today. Often we think of mentors as being future-focused, to help us as we move towards our goals. But it’s so important to ensure that we are as successful as possible in the role that we’re occupying today and that we’re continually honing our skills. When you have a peer mentor, often it’s someone that you really can go to and confide in and really get feedback from and inspire you to do better. Ideally, a peer mentor is someone who is occupying a role that is similar to yours and is wildly successful in it, or they have demonstrated qualities and characteristics that you would like to hone within yourself.
The second mentor that we believe everyone should have is the person who is someone that you aspire to be more like. This is more of a traditional form of mentoring. So when we think of a mentor, we often think of that person that demonstrates the qualities and skills that we would like to have or perhaps they occupy a position we would like to hold in the future. A mentor like that can really inspire us to grow and do better and to see what the future really looks like. The mentor who is someone we aspire to be more like is someone that we should all have, whether that’s someone you have regular contact with or someone that you admire from afar.
The third mentor that everyone must have is the career mentor. A career mentor is somebody that can give you some insight as to really what the career paths are and how to effectively build your career, whether that’s someone within the company that can advise you on how to build your skills and build your career within or even someone externally who can give you some perspective on what career paths are available to you. We often make the assumption that everybody wants to be the CEO someday and often that’s not the case. But as humans, we all want to continually grow and feel challenged and take on new opportunities. Getting that perspective through a career mentor is really essential to having a plan in terms of how you want to build your career.
Finally, competency-based mentors are wildly effective at helping us develop specific skills or competencies that we would like to have, whether that’s a leadership skill that will help us be more effective in the workplace or even other skills outside of work, such as learning how to cook or some other very specific skill. If you wanted to go out and hone your leadership skills or learn something new, you could go take a class, but finding a mentor is a powerful way to really shortcut your learning and accelerate your growth very quickly while building a relationship in the process.