Having a good mentor is vital to development in many different aspects of life. Good mentors engage in conversation and take time to understand your goals and motivations. They encourage you to expand your skills base and help you navigate outside of your comfort zone. Mentors work in your interest, while still providing constructive, honest feedback to help you grow (University of Washington). Finding good mentors can be challenging and takes effort on the part of the mentee to build a good relationship. As a freshman, I was paired with a mentor at my major at the time and given no guidance on forming a relationship with this person. I was a bit lost because I never really had a mentor relationship in the past and was unsure on how to use that connection. It was difficult to find things to work with him on because we didn’t really understand each other and I did also didn’t understand the real purpose of our relationship. Now as I have gotten older, I have wonderful mentors from within my organization at school. Our alumni advisors are wonderful mentors to me. We have many shared experiences and are both working with the same goal in mind: to better the chapter. These strong connections help build a relationship based on mutual trust that we will make decisions and fulfill our roles to the best of our abilities. The freely offer advice and feedback on my actions and I know everything they recommend is always in my best interest as a leader to our chapter. Not only do they care about the chapter, but they have also taken a personal interest in my professional and personal development. These two women are a phenomenal additions to my mentor network!
The article “Indispensable Traits of a Collaborative Leader” by Tammy Vora essentially sums up a good leader and knowing themselves and knowing their people. There were two other points about giving feedback and being culturally aware, but I think these points can be incorporated in the first two. Knowing yourself is essential to being a good leader. Being able to understand your own strengths and weaknesses increases your confidence (Vora). I also believe it helps you shape your supporting leadership team. Being self-aware helps me know what I can and can’t handle well and when to ask for help from my executive board. This also plays into knowing my people. Knowing the members strengths and catering to those helps the group function more efficiently as a whole. Knowing who to call on for what helps me find the support I need to run the chapter and allows the members to hone their skills as well.
Providing Feedback in Professional Situations
From experience, I’ve learned providing feedback isn’t always the easiest thing to do, though 100% necessary in daily life. Trying to be clear and concise while strengthening the relationship between you and the other person is a tricky balance. In one of my current leadership positions on campus, I’ve been avoiding giving feedback by taking on more work load myself. I don’t enjoy confrontation, so instead of addressing my concerns upfront, I just tend to fix all the issues myself. I know in the end, this makes the situation worse for me and my organization because my attention is split and none of my officers are growing their leadership skills. Also, delaying feedback one leads to more annoyance and less patience (Petersen), which can clearly be felt. Giving good feedback comes with practice. People of different backgrounds and cultures respond very differently to certain word choices that can cause confusion (Meyer). Knowing the people you are working with and how they react to feedback it vital to creating a good working environment. This is definitely one skill I will be working to improve!
University of Washington, Mentoring: A Guide for Students, http://grad.uw.edu/for-students-and-post-docs/core-programs/mentoring/mentoring-guides-for-students/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Tammy Vora - The Indispensable Traits of a Collaborative Leader http://qaspire.com/2014/05/11/indispensable-traits-of-a-collaborative-leader-part-3/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Deborah Petersen - Feedback is a Gift, http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/carole-robin-feedback-gift (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Meyer, E. (2015) Giving Negative Feedback Across Cultures http://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/giving-negative-feedback-across-cultures-4259 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.