Learning from Your Own Advice – Why Being a Mentor Makes Good Business Sense
We know that it’s important in business to give something back. Not only is it good for the business, but it’s also good for your own personal and professional development as a manager and leader.
We talk to Spark Digital’s, Vanessa Sorrenson about how mentoring others can bring about positive change.
These days it’s popular for organisations to give their staff a ‘volunteer day’ where they get paid to help out at a local charity. But it’s quite another story for individuals to commit their own time over a four year period to meet regularly with a young person from a vastly different background.
Thirteen years ago when she was still scrambling her own way up the corporate ladder, Vanessa Sorrenson decided to commit to being one of a group of foundation mentors in the YWCA Auckland Future Leaders Programme. This life changing developmental programme is where young women (aged 14-18 years), from low decile schools are paired with a female mentor who helps to develop their leadership skills, resilience, and confidence.
Today Vanessa holds an enviable role at Spark Digital as GM, Enterprise Clients. She cites the main reason she originally put her hand up to be a mentor was as a way to give back to others. She readily admits to being unprepared for the far-reaching benefits it would bring to her own personal and professional development and indirectly, to her employer.
Vanessa believes that her experience as a mentor really helped her reflect on her own leadership strengths and weaknesses and that this learning has helped shape her into the successful leader she is today.
“Being involved as a mentor in this programme was an enriching experience in more ways than I could have imagined. I underestimated how much I would learn about myself as part of the process of being a mentor.
“In order for me to be a successful mentor I needed to look critically at my own leadership style which helped my development, both professionally and personally.
“The young woman whom I mentored was quite different to me in her background and personality, and that made the experience richer for me, because I had to look at things from a different set of eyes.
“I am much more of an A type personality and very driven, whereas my mentoree was more considered and planned. This was an amazing lesson for me to learn because it pointed out how two completely different people are both correct, as long as you are clear on your plan and what success looks like. My view wasn’t always the right path. It might sound like a cliché but I think I gained as much from her as she did from me.”
Some key benefits of becoming a mentor:
Builds professional development
Mentoring helps you grow as a manager and leader which in turn improves your own productivity.
Improves your interpersonal skills
Mentoring brings a greater appreciation of differing learning styles and motivational factors and with that comes greater empathy.
Adds meaning to what you do
The opportunity to give something back and share your skills and knowledge with the next generation really helps bring to life organisational cultural values.
Networking and fostering relationships with other mentors can create opportunities for your business.
Opportunities to reflect on your own career, how you got to your current position and articulate what you want from the next step in your career.
Visit www.akywca.org.nz for more information on YWCA Auckland Future Leaders Programme