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RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles— The Secret of Our Success

I believe that everyone has something to teach and something to learn at the same time.  At this one-of-a-kind event (no speakers or panelists) our RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles speak for themselves!

Nobody knows everything and everyone knows something. Understanding that we learn from each other in a reciprocal fashion at all times is the first step to growing together. And a powerful incentive to engage with your colleagues for mutual career support.

The power and effectiveness of mutual mentoring surpasses anything you could get from a one-directional mentoring relationship. When both people clearly benefit they both invest in the relationship equally. In other words, leveling the playing field does wonders for everyone involved. Today I share why our mutual mentoring methodology, which infuses our RSM Signature Event, is so successful.

Here's a post on coaching and mentoring to clarify some of the different relationship options.

 

 

At our latest RSM Signature Event, MetLife Conference Center. A partial group of attendees.

At our latest RSM Signature Event, MetLife Conference Center. A partial group of attendees.

Our Mutual Mentoring Methodology

The belief that in life we are all learners and teachers is at the core of our methodology and permeates everything we do. That’s what makes our programs and our events so different and so effective. This methodology is behind our annual Step Up Plus leadership development program during which participants set up RSM Circles in their organizations.  And it’s the centerpiece of our Onsite and Signature events. It helps to make our training self-sustaining.

At the core of our methodology: we are constantly learning from each other. Mutual Mentoring is where it's at.

At the core of our methodology: we are constantly learning from each other. Mutual Mentoring is where it’s at.

Experiential leadership: RSM Signature Event

After months of preparation, the Red Shoe Movement Signature Event 2016 at MetLife Conference Center in Bryant Park, NYC, was gone in a flash. It is an unusual kind of event. No speakers or panelists. No “topic experts.” Our RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles speak for themselves. Literally.

Like many professionals, I’ve attended my fair share of conferences and leadership events throughout my career. Maybe a bit more often than doctors would recommend given that, as a speaker, this is what I do for a living.

There are many outstanding events out there where you are exposed to great, new ideas and make powerful connections. Conferences where you listen to industry leaders and get inspired by amazing role models. Yet, after years of participating both as an attendee and as a speaker, I felt that there was room for a more experiential conference. A professional event the nature of which would elicit curiosity, self-discovery, and empowerment. An exciting experience that would shed light on individuals’ interests and passions, and that would reveal areas of knowledge they weren’t aware of.

So when I founded the Red Shoe Movement, I set out to design a completely different type of leadership event. I wanted to create a situation where people could actually learn from each other. I particularly wanted women to realize how much more they know than they give themselves credit for. I craved an event where the attendees would be the real protagonists. Where there wouldn’t be a division between “the experts” and “the participants.”

We achieved our goal of leveling the playing field at our conference by putting into practice our mutual mentoring philosophy.

Mutual Mentoring Circle topic: How to Have a Difficult Conversation led by Lily Benjamin

Mutual Mentoring Circle topic: How to Have a Difficult Conversation led by Lily Benjamin

How does the mutual mentoring methodology achieve positive results?

Our event features two rounds of Mutual Mentoring Circles (RSM Circles) where people alternate between playing the role of the expert and the explorer. The facilitator’s role is to keep the conversation going.

This methodology demands that people participate actively, invest plenty of skin in the game, reveal their curiosity about different career concerns, and ask the relevant questions for their own careers that nobody else could ask. The methodology also requires that people share their knowledge and experiences with others, even when they failed. This openness creates a level of trust that fosters a candid exchange. The payoff is huge.

Practically all participants say they walk away with insights that they can immediately apply to their jobs. These are not a list of tips they could get off the Internet. They are insights people discover about themselves that generate behavioral and attitudinal changes. The best part is that once internalized, the mutual mentoring methodology carries beyond the RSM Signature Event.

Mutual Mentoring Circle topic: Your Brand Already Exists, facilitated by Cosette Gutiérrez.

Mutual Mentoring Circle topic: Your Brand Already Exists, facilitated by Cosette Gutiérrez.

Granted, this approach is not for everyone. Our feedback surveys often reveal a few people who would have preferred “topic experts” to facilitate our Mutual Mentoring Circles. Having speakers who present their topics with a Power Point. Panel discussions. Facilitators who capture key learnings on flip charts. And there’s nothing wrong with preferring that kind of conference. It’s just not what we do.

Our Facilitators

From Left to Right (standing, kneeling and standing): Stephen Palacios, Jolanta Kordowski, Johanna Torres, Mariela Dabbah, Cosette Gutiérrez, Ali Curi and Lily Benjamin.

From Left to Right (standing, kneeling and standing): Stephen Palacios, Jolanta Kordowski, Johanna Torres, Mariela Dabbah, Cosette Gutiérrez, Ali Curi and Lily Benjamin.

Our RSM Circles’ facilitators are high-level executives from large organizations who honor us with their participation. They are specifically trained in our methodology. Their mandate during these conversations is to leave their “expert hat” at the door and to adopt the role of the curious explorer. An experience they cherish so much, they keep coming back year after year to facilitate at this annual conference.

This year’s star facilitators were:

Lily Benjamin, SVP, Leadership Development & Transformation, U.S. Trust, Bank of America.

Ali Curi, President, Hispanic Professionals Networking Group (HPNG.)

Cosette Gutiérrez, VP, Operations & Social Responsibility, DonorsChoose.org.

Jolanta Kordowski, AVP, Organizational Effectiveness, MetLife.

Stephen Palacios, General Manager, VP, Lieberman Research Worldwide.

Johanna Torres, Editor-in-Chief, MamasLatinas.com.

Action planning session and beyond

After two rounds of Mutual Mentoring Circles, our event attendees participate in an insightful Action Planning session. It’s the chance to put pen to paper and work through some concrete career goals. After all the conversations that have been taking place, it’s time for some introspection. And then, everyone has the opportunity to partner with someone to practice mutual mentoring after the day’s activities come to an end.

Setting up career goals during the Action Planning Session

Setting up career goals during the Action Planning Session

Our Q&A with a top female leader

In addition to our Mutual Mentoring Circles, for our RSM Signature Event we invite a successful leader to share how she made it to where she is in her career. And you couldn’t ask for a more candid leader than Marta L. Tellado. Marta shared the career trajectory that led to her current position as CEO of Consumer Reports, the largest consumer advocacy organization in the world. Ali Curi interviewed her and then turned it over to the audience. And in typical Red Shoe Movement fashion, we then had Marta ask questions of the audience. This is how mutual mentoring works. An even playing field at all times. As an explorer, what did Marta want to ask the audience? “What do you find most fascinating and most challenging about the American corporate culture?”

Ali Curi interviews Marta Tellado, CEO, Consumer Reports

Ali Curi, President HPNG,  interviews Marta Tellado, CEO, Consumer Reports

The fun part

Alexandra Contreras of Colgate-Palmolive picks up her Farylrobin shoes (while wearing another pair she won last year!)

Alexandra Contreras of Colgate-Palmolive picks up her Farylrobin shoes (while wearing another pair she won last year!)

And of course, we wouldn’t be true to our name if there weren’t some actual shoes involved, right? So to help more people celebrate #RedShoeTuesday, we gave away dozens of pairs of red shoes during early registration and at the event. They were two styles specially designed for the Red Shoe Movement by our great partner, Farylrobin.

We also raffled LolaRamona shoes and, this year for the first time, we gave away red ties! As the number of male attendees grows, we want to make sure they have the right accessory to support women’s career growth in style.

Winner of a Cyberoptix tie

Winner of a Cyberoptix tie

It’s been a fabulous year! And next year will be even better. I can’t wait to see you at our next event!

Testimonials of our attendees

Hear first hand what participants had to say about the event.

If you want to bring this level of engagement to your organization, let us know. Our RSM Onsite Event is the in-company version of the RSM Signature Event. ‘Till next time!

Is flattery interfering with your career goals? This story is a wake up call!

If flattery can get a millionaire man to completely change his mind about who he funds for president, what can it do to women in the workplace?

I literally stopped in my tracks. I was out for my morning walk listening to one of my favorite podcasts, This American Life. The episode was called Get Your Money’s Worth and part of it was dedicated to the story of Doug Deason, a Dallas millionaire and his father Darwin Deason, a billionaire. It was about their search for a Republican candidate to support for President of the United States.

The Deasons had budgeted 2 million dollars for this election cycle. After a thorough vetting process where they met with each candidate, they first endorsed Rick Perry and then Ted Cruz. They had such dislike for Donald Trump that the thought of vetting him didn’t cross their minds.

Even when you know someone is using flattery to get something, it's hard to resist its allure.

Even when you know someone is using flattery to get something, it’s hard to resist its allure.

But when faced with the reality that Donald Trump would become the Republican nominee, Doug and his dad set up a meeting with him. Doug prepared a list of questions for Trump (similar to the ones he’d been asking all the other candidates before he decided who to support.) Only that, when he met with Trump, he didn’t get a chance to ask much. Why? Because Trump used flattery to win over him and his dad. Just like that. With plain, old flattery.

This is part of the transcript of Doug’s comment to Zoe Chace, the podcast’s producer and reporter right after the Deasons met Trump: “…he kept complimenting Dad on me, (…), ‘I know how great it is to be able to turn something over to your kids, and let them run it, and let them do it.’ Which, obviously, is what I do. So it was nice to be complimented, right?”

They walked out of that meeting believing that Donald Trump was nice. That he had their same mindset. He thought like a businessman. Forget all the reasons for which the Deasons had decided to never even vet him. A brief meeting peppered with the right flattery, complimenting a dad on his son, was enough to shift the destination of millions of dollars. Because money begets money. And when a couple of billionaires bet on one candidate, many others tend to follow. Which is exactly what happened.

Way too often women are happy with being told they are doing a great job. But is that enough?

Way too often women are happy with being told they are doing a great job. But is that enough?

The story stopped me in my tracks because I had a long-held belief that men were less susceptible to flattery than women. But they are not. And in fact, an amazing study of 451 CEOs (which we know are mostly men) showed that high levels of flattery lead to opinion conformity. Which means that CEOs “become over-confident in their strategic decisions and in their ability to correct performance problems with the current strategy.”

The study revealed that CEOs subject to flattery were more likely to believe they were better leaders. But this was not confirmed by the firm’s performance data. The authors of the study said that firms with flattered CEOs were less likely to change strategy when performance dropped.

What’s most disturbing is that studies have shown that even when you consciously know that the flattery is BS (as most CEOs surely do,) the subconscious impact remains.

So, if this can happen to a CEO, someone who is trained and experience in the art of identifying BS, where does it leave you?

It’s time to ask yourself if flattery is interfering with your goals.

How about: "You look like you know exactly where you are going!"

How about: “You look like you know exactly where you are going!”

Most people seem predisposed to flatter little girls. “You look so cute!” “What a pretty dress!” “I love your hair!” As of late, we’ve been hearing more and more about the effects of praising girl’s appearance and boy’s achievements or behavior. But the truth is that we all grew up appreciating flattery and putting a lot of weight and value on it.

As a matter of fact, we are now in a constant state of pursuing flattery. Think about how you feel when you post a picture on social media and receive only a few likes. Your ego takes a nosedive, doesn’t it? Well, it maybe time to stop with the selfies for a minute and reflect on how seeking and receiving flattery might be getting in the way of what you really want. Primarily at work.

Here are some comments from clients and colleagues (who will remain anonymous) to help me make this point.

“My boss told me he couldn’t have finished the project without me.”

“My supervisor was incredibly impressed with how well I manage the company’s external relationships. Everybody knows me when I walk in the room and she finally saw that. She told me, ‘I now realize how hard you’ve worked for the organization all these years.’”

“I rolled out the Business Resource Groups in our organization two years ago and they are showing very positive results. So my boss told me I had a powerful vision and an uncanny ability to execute. Then she asked me to replicate the same model in Latin America. And this is not even my main role.”

What happened when promotion time came around? Did these women, who had received the most flattering comments from their supervisors, get their due? You guessed it. Nope. They were asked to do more for the same pay. Yet they didn’t even think to ask for more. The usual answer when I ask why, is: “Oh, I’m happy to do it.” Or “I love what I do and money is not all that matters.”

This begs the question: Are women so satisfied with being flattered that they are willing to forgo money they deserve? Is getting a great compliment enough?

Even when flattery is blatant and you the motives of the person using it are obvious, you can't avoid its subconscious effects.

Even when flattery is blatant and you the motives of the person using it are obvious, you can’t avoid its subconscious effects.

Remember: Knowing that someone is using flattery to get something from you (even when the ulterior motives are evident,) doesn’t protect you against its effect. So next time your supervisors flatter you for going above and beyond your job description, take the compliment. Enjoy it. Use it as an ego boost. And then write down exactly how you want to leverage your contribution, and the fact that it is being recognized as such, in the next salary negotiation. Or to get that stretch assignment you’ve been pining for.

And as usual, if you’d like to work on this and other key skills to help you move to your next career level, check out our Step Up and Step Up Plus programs. They have proven to work marvelously!

 

Climbing the ladder: What women don’t know

Why aren’t more women climbing the ladder at corporations and organizations of all kinds? It’s the million-dollar question. If you really want to change the status quo, read on!

We’ve been debating this question for a long time. Mostly because it’s unfathomable that so little change has happened in decades. Are women not climbing the ladder because of a personal decision or because of organizational biases?

Climbing the ladder: Three responsible categories, not two!

Let’s look first at two, broad categories that most commonly take the blame for making it hard for women climbing the ladder.

Organizational responsibility 

There is an array of factors that deliberately or inadvertently impact the number of women at the top in a negative way. These include barriers such as unwritten rules, policies, expectations, and perceptions of what constitutes leadership potential, executive presence, etc.

For instance:

  • Often, women are not offered advice or training on business, financial and strategy which is key to reach the highest levels of an organization.

    Often, women are not offered advice or training on business, financial and strategy which is key to reach the highest levels of an organization.

    Expectations that in order to reach the C-suite you must be available 24/7. Or work late every night to entertain clients.

  • Expectations that women are still mostly responsible for family matters.
  • Perceptions of men being more competent or having more executive presence.
  • Regular skepticism, push back and challenges of women’s ideas and competences.
  • Fill-in positions through recommendations of current executives in office. (These tend to be white men and have a network with a similar make-up.)
  • Value face-time in the office for promotions(penalizing people who are mobile.)

Personal responsibility

This group of factors includes your own behaviors and decisions that impact your career trajectory.

For example:

  • How assertive you are in your communication and leadership style.
  • How strong your network of sponsors is.
  • How hard and often you negotiate for yourself along your career.
  • How visible you and your accomplishments are to key people.
  • How comfortable you are taking risks.
  • How important other pursuits outside of your career are for you.

Now, in trying to figure out which of these two categories is more responsible for women not climbing the ladder, we keep pointing fingers with little visible results.

The truth is that here’s a third category that connects Organizational and Personal. One that we haven’t paid as much attention as it deserves. One that can really make the difference.

Joined Responsibility

Climbing the ladder requires women to leverage all their assets and know as much about the business of their organization as possible.

Climbing the ladder requires women to leverage all their assets and know as much about the business of their organization as possible.

This category is the space where both individual women and organizations share responsibility for more women not climbing the ladder. Due to the way in which organizations have traditionally perceived and promoted men and women, and social norms affecting both genders, some advice and training fell through the cracks. Companies didn’t offer it. Women didn’t ask for it.

This advice refers to the expectation that a person must have certain abilities in order to reach C-level. Advice that hasn’t been verbalized as often to women as to men. And women haven’t asked about it either. Here are the areas that may be holding you back at any level:

  • How focused you are in business outcomes. (Both the outcomes of your own role and on how they impact the overall outcomes of the business.)
  • How closely you align your role in the organization with the business strategy. (Can you answer why the company is paying your salary? Hint: Think of the “why” you do what you do.  Not the “what” it is you do.)
  • How much financial acumen you have. (Do you know how to affect the company’s bottom line within your own role? At any level, it’s important to understand how what you do affects the financials of the overall company.)
Check out Susan Colantuono’s brilliant book on this topic!

Mastering these three aspects will make it easier for women climbing the ladder to get to the very top. If you are a manager, supervisor or an executive, you may need to start sharing this type of advice with your subordinates. Offer them coaching and training programs to fill-in any gaps in knowledge. If you are an individual contributor, this is your call to action. Don’t let one more day go by without seeking help in this area. Here is a great, very inexpensive Business Foundations online course, taught by Wharton Business School.

It's important to understand how your role supports the overall business strategy.

It’s important to understand how your role supports the overall business strategy.

As women, we already have many of the advantageous characteristics that make for a successful 21st Century executive. Make sure you don’t overlook the business, financial, and strategic abilities that are taken for granted at higher levels. You may not have thought about them much along the way and they may be the one thing that’s holding you back.

 

 

 

 

 

Networking for Business: A Year-Round Sport

If you only conceive networking for business as mingling among similarly dressed professionals with a pocketful of business cards and a drink in hand, think again.

Why? First, because if you’re like many women you may not have enough time to attend all the networking for business events out there. Second, because you may not enjoy them that much. Third, because they are usually not the best way to network. Networking for business shouldn’t be about collecting as many cards as possible in a stiff business setting. Instead, it should be about making truly meaningful and beneficial personal connections, something that you can do nearly anywhere.

Networking for business can take place in formal or informal settings.

Networking for business can take place in formal or informal settings. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event

Practice it every day at work

If you are still buying into the idea that women who work full time are still mostly responsible for their family and home, it’s very likely that you’ve decided to cut out networking for business from your life. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day. Something’s got to give. But this a bad decision for your career because people offer opportunities to people they know and trust. If you are not someone who spends time with your colleagues, bosses and potential new supervisors, they won’t know you well enough to offer you those great assignments.

Take every opportunity to socialize with people at work to develop strong, trusting relationships.

Take every opportunity to socialize with people at work to develop strong, trusting relationships. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event

So, get used to lifting your head from your work, walking to the office next door or to the cubicle on the other side of the room. Say hello, chit-chat, find out how everyone’s doing. A few times a week bring your food to the general cafeteria area and eat with a friend or two. Join the group for an after-hours a few times a month. In other words, networking for business should happen effortlessly, every day at your place of work.

You may want to read about how to strike the right tone when talking about yourself.

Networking for Business 2.0

Now, back to the idea of networking for business at large events. The truth is that professionals in your field don’t only attend industry meetings and seminars. They shop, they travel, and they take their kids to many different activities. If you keep an open mind, you will always be ready to connect with people around you regardless of where you are. Networking for business can be done anywhere, and that’s the beauty of it. Once you master the art to connect with others, you can keep it going 24/7. Consider the following places:

  • Coffee shops
  • Airports
  • Train stations
  • Your child’s school
  • Hair salon
  • Gym
  • Grocery line
  • House of worship

Networking for business starts with a conversation

Building contacts in an organic way is not that hard. By remaining honestly interested in the other person, you can strike natural conversations, just as you would with any potential friend. Using appropriate small talk is generally a good way to go. Here are a few tips to help you start the conversation and keep it going:

  • Talk about your mutual interests (i.e. your children if you meet at a sporting event), your commute if you are waiting on the train, or the food if you meet at a food line during a wedding.
  • Ask open ended questions that provide insights into the other person’s interests, likes, dislikes, etc.
  • Talk about what your own interests and passions.
  • Look for common professional and personal interests.
  • Talk about your work and what you love about it.
  • Discuss meeting for coffee or exchanging emails.
Networking for business starts with a conversation. You can have it anywhere, anytime. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event.

Networking for business starts with a conversation. You can have it anywhere, anytime. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event.

Of course, you are less likely to meet someone who works in your field when you are simply striking up conversations with strangers than if you meet them at an event specifically designed to carry out networking for business. But, the people you meet out in the world can add significant value to your personal and professional life.

Meeting a make up artist, for instance, could help you strengthen your personal appearance, someone who works in the banking sector could put you in touch with a small business loan officer, etc. Besides, hearing what others outside of your sector do, how they solve problems, how they gain market share, and so on, allows you to bring fresh ideas to your own workplace.

Asking for feedback is a great way to improve upon your networking for business skills.
Set up some time to network every week.

Set up some time to network every week. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event.

Be Generous

As with any other kind of relationship building, networking for business is all about creating a mutually rewarding relationship. So before you ever think about how your new connection might benefit you, think of how you could be of help to your new acquaintance. What could you offer this new contact that is unique and helpful? Do you know information they could use? Do you have a specific connections you could introduce them to? Could you volunteer for a particular cause they support? Offering to help before anyone offers to help you will send a clear message about your generosity and your commitment to this new relationship. If you keep this principle at the heart of all your networking for business you will always come out ahead.

Be generous with all your relationships. Always figure out how you can be of help to your new connections.

Be generous with all your relationships. Always figure out how you can be of help to your new connections.

Nothing Happens if You Don’t Follow Up

One key habit of good networking for business is to follow up. Send whatever it is you promised to send, or do whatever you promised you would do. This is one of the areas where lots of people fall flat, lose credibility and see doors close. True, not everyone you meet will evolve into a real relationship. Very often people seem interested at the time you meet them and then they won’t reply to your follow up calls or emails. Remain perceptive so that you can drop them if theres’ no mutual interest. But let it not be you the one who fails to follow up when you promised to do so.

A powerful network is without a doubt one of the most valuable assets you can develop if you want to take your career to the next level. Start practicing networking for business as an ongoing activity rather than one you only do when you are at annual conference, and you’ll see your network grow exponentially. And your opportunities along with it!

 

Finding a Mentor to Propel Your Career Forward

If you are the first in your family to go to college or to work in a large organization, and you didn’t have many professional role models growing up, you may not be fully aware of the value of finding a mentor. Yet, the sooner you realize it, the better for your career prospects.

The practice of mentorship systems goes back to ancient Greece and to the beginning of most religions. But the modern use of “mentor” and “career mentorship” in the U.S. started in the mid 70s. That’s when advocates for workplace equity tried to identify and address obstacles for the career growth of non-dominant groups.

Inspirational mentoring quote by Marisol Gonzalez

Finding a mentor is a wonderful way to make your journey a much more fulfilling one!

Marisol Gonzalez, Producer at HBO, shares the impact of mentors in her career: “I have been lucky enough to have great mentors. People who believed in me even when I didn’t believe I could do something.  Mentors have impacted me greatly.  They have guided me to be the best I can.  They have pushed me to always work towards excellence.  The biggest impact that my mentors have made in my life is that I know I am not alone on this journey. They have my back, and they are there for me.”

Is there a process for finding a mentor?

Well, if you’re not surrounded by professionals in your field, finding a mentor is a task you must undertake deliberately. You should join professional organizations and attend conferences where you can easily meet the right people. Start developing the relationships as you would with anyone else, and eventually establish either a formal or informal mentoring relationship. Most people’s first mentors tend to be their bosses. The advantage here is that your boss knows your job, the culture of your organization, and your field. The disadvantage is that if conflict ever arise with your boss, then you have nobody to consult with.

Finding a mentor inspirational quote by Will Robalino

Most mentors agree that they derive great satisfaction from seeing their mentees’s dreams become realities.

So you may start with your boss and then set out finding a mentor outside of your organization. Keep in mind that you can have more than one mentor and you can also change mentors as your career evolves and your interests change.

Informal mentoring relationships

Also, when finding a mentor, it’s good to admit that many mentoring relationships are pretty informal. If you have a relationship with someone you really trust, admire and like, you may be able to “use” them as your mentors without formally asking. These can be very fulfilling and productive relationships. Lily Benjamin, SVP Leadership development and organization transformation at a large financial institution in the banking industry, shares:

Two women talking

Have you ever tried this powerful modality of mentoring?

“I have never had a formal mentor, but have had many informal mentoring relationships.  Everyone has valuable attributes that we can learn from, whether we admire or disapprove of them.  Given that we, humans, are evolving creatures, to become our better selves, it is imperative that we are conscious and open to continuous learning.  Being humble and receptive is necessary to make the best out of our relationships with either formal or informal mentors.  That is why I believe the Chinese proverb that says, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’  Because I am a perpetual learner, I learned from my mentor-figures how to think critically, network, and be respected.  As a result, I am very comfortable with ambiguity, navigating through complex matrix environments, and building meaningful relationships in support of everyone.”

Difference between formal and informal mentoring

Some research shows that finding a mentor and establishing a formal relationship results in more promotions than informal relationships. So besides having a supportive group of informal mentors, you should find someone who understands what it takes to make it in your field. Someone with whom you can establish a more formal mentoring relationship. That means, someone you meet regularly, who sees your potential, challenges you to achieve what you sometimes feel impossible, and helps you set your goals.

What you should know before you go off finding a mentor

Before you go off finding a mentor you should know that research shows that diverse employees (and women) tend to have less access to mentors in their organizations. And often, when they are assigned mentors, they tend to be of lower hierarchical level. Inevitably, this affects the access that the mentor has and the probability he or she will become a sponsor for the mentee. So, if you find yourself in this situation, it may be time to talk to your boss or to the HR team so you may be paired with an executive who can mentor you.

It’s also worth understanding why someone would invest time in your development. To this effect, the answers from these two executives resonate with most mentors I know.

Lucía Ballas-Traynor, a senior marketing and media executive, said:

Lucia Ballas Traynor mentoring quote

It’s important to know your potential mentor’s motivation for investing time and energy in you.

“My main trigger on mentoring others is the fact that I did not have mentors who truly understood the unique challenges faced by a Latina early on in my career.  I had no one to turn to when I needed advice, words of encouragement or just a likeminded sounding board who could share lessons learned from their real-world experience, when I needed it most!  I find that companies and leadership (especially male-dominated) are not taking the time to coach and develop the next generation of professionals.  Consequently the need for mentorship has increased.”

William Robalino, VP, Controller at Prudential Annuities, shares: “There are many reasons I enjoy mentoring. My biggest is the satisfaction I get in seeing someone’s goals and interests become a reality.”

Don’t miss my article on coaching and mentoring where I review different types of mentoring relationships.

The more you know the value you can bring to you mentor, the more productive the relationship. And the more interested your mentor will be in investing time in you. That’s why my biggest recommendation is: Think of the mentoring relationship as a two-way street. Bring as much value to your mentors as they bring you. Explore your mentor’s agenda, their goals, their aspirations and find ways to support them.

Role model inspirational quote by Mariela Dabbah

Role model inspirational quote by Mariela Dabbah

Role models inspire you by showing you what is possible with their own example. Mentors help you manifest your dreams and goals. They can help make the impossible possible. So surround yourself with the greatest mentors to achieve your greatest potential.

And if you are serious about finding mentors and coaches to propel your career forward, consider joining our Step Up program.