The necessity of strong mentorship

“The future is ours to seize. But we aren’t going to seize it by contorting ourselves into the male version of what power and success look like. Instead, we’re going to do it by embracing and investing in our true female selves – and bringing those badass selves proudly, unapologetically, to work.”

I love it!

I love the evolution of women, particularly, women in the work place. It is a new world for female professionals and seemingly, for the first time, women don’t feel the need to conform to the standards that men and the greater society set for us. We are confident, we are fierce and we are determined to command respect.

The opening paragraph consists of the words of Sallie Krawcheck, author of “Own It: The Power of Women at Work.” The book addresses the pay gap between women and our male counterparts, the benefits of networking and the need for flexibility in today’s work environment.
“Own It” also discusses the importance of mentorship, a topic that never gets old.
I am a beneficiary of strong mentorships. Women like Carolene Mays-Medley and the late Yvonne Perkins poured into me, they guided me, invested in me and they believed in me. It is because of them – and select others – including male mentors, that I am who I am: a hardworking woman with character, integrity and talent.

By far, Carolene has been the greatest influencer in my professional life – largely because we spent 10 years working alongside one another. Over the years, particularly the decade that she was my superior; I was able to learn constantly. I would often tell her, she teaches me without her even knowing it. That type of mentoring relationship – where there are two willing participants – is invaluable. Because I specifically benefitted from mentors, I too, try to mentor others. As a matter of fact, a report by Jazmine Boatman, Ph.D., Linda Miller and Stephanie Neal, states that 74 percent of women mentor others because they have benefitted from their own mentorship experiences. Eighty percent of respondents said they mentor because they want to be supportive of other women.

Boatman, Miller and Neal also found that women who mentor other women within their companies have far more successful business outcomes.

There is power in mentorship and great things happen when women can join forces with other women to learn and grow. This is especially true when established women mentor younger females and when C-suite executives mentor lower level employees who typically need help with influencing others, working through challenges, negotiations, and interpersonal skills.
Studies show that mentorship is most effective when mentees are open-minded and receptive to the ideas and philosophies of mentors.

It brings me great joy to mentor others. It is my way of blessing others in ways I have been blessed. I’m extremely proud that some of the people I’ve mentored are doing great things professionally and personally. They are thriving! However, while my success rate as a mentor is fairly high, there have been a couple instances where the individuals don’t welcome the authenticity of my mentoring – they don’t like to hear the critiques, they are unwilling to put in the hard work or they simply are inpatient and immediately want whatever “it” it is that they seek. Even still, the positive experiences far outweigh the not so positive ones and I continue to be fulfilled through my service as a mentor as well as my experiences as a mentee.

Only through the teachings of the successes and mistakes of others will the next generation develop into the leaders of tomorrow. And who better to teach us, than us?