On Finding a Great Business Mentor
March 10, 2016 Leave a comment
For young people entering business school or graduating from it, knowing how to find the right mentor who will set them on a path to success is tricky. A mentor can have a significant impact on a young person’s career choices and development, so it’s important to find a good one worth admiring and worth listening to. By lending their experience, their insights, and their advice, a mentor has the power to help create another force to be reckoned with in the business world. So how do you find the right one?
Firstly, it helps to know that not every great business leader makes a great mentor, and not every great mentor is a ferocious CEO. What’s more important to the mentor-mentee relationship is professional chemistry. Ken Jacobs, Lazard CEO, encourages young workers to find a mentor they want to be like in three to five years.
As people become more senior in their careers, Jacobs says to look for a mentor they’d want to be like in ten to fifteen years. “Say to yourself: Do I want that person’s lifestyle? Can I share their passions? Can I share their interests? To me, that’s a critical element of knowing if a workplace is right for you,” he says.
But a great mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be the only person you’d ever want to emulate. There are many different kinds of great mentors and teachers. A good mentor is someone who asks tough questions and doesn’t shy away from answers they don’t like. Rather, look for someone who draws on their own expertise and experiences to help you grow yours.
It also helps to know what a good fit for you looks like. Not every mentor is right for every fledgling business brain. A natural partnership formed between Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and the late Steve Jobs of Apple because they both wanted to build “high-quality things.” They shared a similar outlook on life, business, and change.
Once you’ve identified someone that you think would be a good mentor for your career, talk with them. Set up a meeting somewhere that is comfortable for both of you, where you can feel confident about your skills and what you’re asking. Be clear and realistic about your expectations, and make the most out of your new relationship.