‘Expect Support, Not Miracles’ – Mentorship Advice for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs in it for the Love or Money?

Most successful entrepreneurs credit a mentor or mentors. Not surprisingly many entrepreneurs who “have made it” will have more than their fair share of mentorship requests.

Mentorship is a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly by either the mentor or mentee, says Anja van Beek, an independent leadership consultant, talent strategist and coach.

Find out what you are really in for when you do say yes – Van Beek offers MUST-DOS to help both parties rise to the challenges of mentorship.

Take ownership of your own development

If you are looking for a MENTOR

1. Expect support, not miracles: Keep your expectations realistic and be specific on the guidance you require. Be clear on the insight you want to gain from a professional and personal perspective.

2. Be forward-thinking: Focus most of your attention on your long-term goals. Although it is necessary to share where you’re currently at; let your attention be on what you need to acquire in order to achieve these long-term goals.

3. Honour your commitments: This might sound very elementary but be on time for meetings and respectful/appreciative of your mentors’ investment in your career. Always respond in a timely manner to your mentor’s questions and comments.

4. Take ownership of your own development: Be enthusiastic and eager to learn, the best mentees are fun to work with. Choose to apply at least some of your mentor’s ideas and suggestions and provide feedback on the impact and application of the suggestion.

Are you willing to actively support your mentee with your actions and words, sharing knowledge and expertise?

If you are considering becoming a MENTOR

It is a commitment. If you consider being a mentor, think about the following before making a pledge:

1. Time: Good mentoring takes time; you need to be prepared to invest the appropriate amount of time with your mentee; at least monthly but more regular “check-ins” might be needed.

2. Good listener: Listening is an important skill for any manager. This is also the case in a mentoring relationship where you need to listen well, with an open-mind to know where to provide the necessary insights and guidance.

3. Commitment: Are you willing to actively support your mentee with your actions and words, sharing knowledge and expertise? As an expert in your field, are you keen to spend time with diverse mentees? Someone who may not share common backgrounds, values and goals.

4. Honest guidance: You need to be willing to share your successes and failures to provide your mentee with an authentic insight into lessons learned and why things worked or didn’t work. Circumstances may require that you have to provide specific and constructive feedback to your mentee. Are you comfortable doing this? It might even mean pushing your mentee outside their comfort zone (which is where beautiful things happen!).

5. Learning mindset: Are you open to continued learning? Having a growth mindset will contribute to your being an effective mentor by keeping up with the latest trends and topics and potentially be reversed-mentored.

 

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Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo is the editor of SME South Africa. She enjoys keeping up with the country’s exciting and fast developing entrepreneurship ecosystem. You can find her at @lelele3