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While coaching a small group of global bankers, a question surfaced – “How do we find a Mentor?”

After some careful thought, and reflecting on some previous experiences, I responded that the question should have been “How do we find Mentors?” with a plural instead.

From relatively informal ways to finding mentors, organizations over the years have launched a slew of initiatives around it.  They have experimented with Global Mentoring programs involving senior leaders from different geographies or markets, Women Mentoring initiatives focused primarily on gender based issues, Business Mentoring models to drive revenues or acumen, and so on.

In my understanding, many of these initiatives have failed or have been largely ineffective due to:

  • Either the Mentor or Mentee not devoting time or making consistent effort
  • There is not a clear understanding of the Mentor/Mentee roles and responsibilities
  • A sense of insecurity persisting with the Mentee over confidentiality

From my experience, there are some sure ways for Mentees to benefit. First, look for not one Mentor, but several. Not all Mentors have the experience, acumen or answers.  Base your choice on your specific needs such as, understanding business or markets, networking, effective leadership, conflict management, communication skills, etc.

Second, leave your ego at the door. Look for not only seniors but also Mentors who can be junior to you (Reverse Mentoring). You never know what interesting ideas, support or learning you can gain from some younger colleagues around you.

Ultimately, if you are serious about developing, make sure you persevere and invest sufficient time in building rapport, asking relevant questions and being open minded in experimenting with what threads you picked up from your Mentors.  That will encourage them more to reach out to you and help you further.

Rajeev Raju – an Executive Coach with AIIR Consulting, is passionate about studying what creates value and what depletes value in large organizations and complex collaborations. To learn more, check out his full bio here.