QFinding Good Leaders, Opportunities and Mentors

answered February 24th, 2010 by Vincenza Sera

Most of the women who have been spotlighted on the blog have a common belief that mentors and good leaders are important. I work in a business envrionment that lacks mentors, good leaders and opportunities. I am eager to advance my career but am struggling to find direction. What can I do to find my way?”


I must ask — If you work in an environment that lacks mentors, good leaders AND opportunities — why do you stick around?? I encourage you to really think about this.


You’re right – if there is one message that comes through loud and clear when you read the Babe stories, it is that having a mentor is a key success factor.  I believe this wholeheartedly — it is almost impossible to progress through large organizations without an executive in your corner.  The best mentorships are those that develop informally over time often because of reporting relationships or because personalities click. Think whether there is anyone you have reported to or interacted with that would be worth spending more time with to develop this kind of relationship. You can try to advance an informal mentor relationship by going in and asking their opinion about something — an idea you have, how you could have handled a project better, what extracurricular networking activities they think would be beneficial — anything to see if something clicks. If the informal process isn’t working for you, go and meet with your boss or HR and see if they can help develop a formal program for you alone or depending on the organization for others like you.   


If you are an employee who consistently delivers superior performance and makes whoever you report to look great and there is no one in your organization taking you under their wing or providing you with increased responsibilities etc — then I would seriously suggest you look elsewhere where your talent will be appreciated and rewarded.


Another avenue to pursue is to hire a professional coach. Some organizations pay for this, but even if you have to pay for it yourself I would consider it a worthwhile investment especially at this point in your career.


Finally, look for mentors outside your organization who can provide career advice and can act as impartial sounding boards.  These individuals should be those that have ‘been there done that’ and may include former employers or colleagues, professors, industry experts, consultants, networking contacts etc.  For outside mentors — you will have to avoid any conflict of interest and confidentiality issues.




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