Reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean in” I feel somewhat embarrassed in the trap I fell into as to how I perceive mentoring relationships.
I often encourage my delegates to find mentors men and women and without really thinking about how they can cultivate them.
Sandberg explains that she is often asked by women to be their mentor, and let’s face it for the last ten years this has been good advice for women climbing the corporate ladder.
Sandberg when interviewed made it very clear
“If current trends continue, fifteen years from today, about one third of the women in the audience will be working full-time and almost all of you will be working for the guy you are sitting next to”
After this statement the floor opened for Q and A, there were several big picture and thought provoking questions from men. Two women put their hands up, one asked was it OK to move to a company that competes with another company and the other lady asked how do I find a mentor?
Men were focusing on how to run a business and the women were focusing on how to manage a career. The men in the audience wanted answers and the women were seeking permission and help.
We all remember the fairy tale of Sleeping beauty – wait and the Prince will come. Today women see a mentor as their Prince Charming they will be whisked up the career ladder however this is born out of dependence.
“Will you be my mentor?” Whilst this assertive behaviour should be applauded if your have no connection it embarrasses the individual and is usually a negative response which may well dent confidence.
However a strong existing relationship with a well earned connection leads to the question “Are you my mentor? It can be formed without the question, they are there already.
As you can imagine Sandberg’s turns down requests from strangers and she actually finds her own people to mentor.
As women we need to shine and the mentors will be there as we will be dazzlingly them.
Lean in now and reverse the statement of Sandberg so that you sit beside the man you manage in fifteen years time.