As a mentor, how should you think about your own growth and development? This question is answered in a recently published paper from the Simmons University Institute of Inclusive Leadership fellows Mary Shapiro, Dr. Cynthia Ingols, and co-author Dr. Stacy Blake-Beard. They suggest several steps mentors can take to build their self-awareness so they can contribute and mentor more effectively.
How does self-awareness help me be a better mentor?
Becoming more self-aware helps you evaluate and manage your emotions, or in other words, develop your emotional intelligence (EQ). Using your emotional intelligence helps you to become a role model and to aid your mentee(s) in building their self-awareness and EQ.
The first step is to decide on your primary goal(s) and commit to journaling for a specified period of time. The authors suggest trying a self-reflection journal for seven days, and then developing a commitment to an on-going practice.
Build a Constellation of Peer Support
Mentors also need their own mentoring support, which can come from peers as well as more senior colleagues. In peer-mentoring relationships, each participant serves both as mentor and mentee, simultaneously receiving support and providing challenges. Peer mentoring provides a space where you can be vulnerable and practice skills you want to share with your mentee(s).
Ask for Feedback
Feedback can be a powerful tool for learning. As you move into the upper ranks of your organization, your position may inhibit others from providing feedback, so you need to be vigilant in asking for it. The authors suggest asking “What’s one thing I should do to improve my performance in X (a specific area)?” By asking for feedback you signal to others, and remind yourself, of the need to continuously develop your skills.
Benefits for Mentors
By engaging in these self-awareness practices and building your skills as a mentor, you reap several benefits. First, you provide yourself with an enriching growth opportunity. Second, you develop your reputation as a developer of talent, and you also build your capacity to lead.