Finding a good mentor that complements a student or young professional’s goals and personality can not only be extremely valuable for their career, but also give them a foundation to be a successful leader and mentor to others. According to UW’s “Mentoring: A Guide for Students,” a good mentor promotes educational, professional and personal growth through feedback, encouragement, conversation, respect and genuine interest in the student. While a good mentor seems like an indisputable asset to one’s career, finding this role model requires sustained effort from the mentee. The first step to finding a mentor is being aware of your goals and the benefits you would like to receive from the relationship. The mentee must be proactive throughout the entire process, as it is their responsibility to initiate the relationship with a potential mentor. Forming an informal team of mentors is also a good strategy recommended by UW. Either way, self-awareness can boost the chances of gaining a good mentor, as a self-aware mentee is able to communicate the potential advantages the mentor would also gain from the relationship.
Self-awareness, according to Tanmay Vora’s “Indispensable Traits of a Collaborative Leader: Part 3,” is the most important quality of a leader. Vora argues that a self-aware leader is more successful because they understand themselves, which allows them to navigate any situation according to their strengths and weaknesses. Successful leaders are also aware of the strengths and weaknesses of others. This allows them to organize people effectively and approach them in ways that will result in the desired outcome. The ability of a group to collaborate efficiently can be controlled by the leader’s ability to make the group members feel comfortable and confident in their roles. Understanding how to approach an individual is critical for leaders as various cultures react differently to feedback.
Feedback can be a sensitive subject; however, accepting feedback is a crucial part of an individual’s growth and success, and their company or organization’s success as a direct result. Thus, learning to give feedback in an appropriate and respectful manner is an essential leadership skill. Carole Robin, according to Deborah Petersen, proposes that learning this skill requires a change of mindset about giving feedback. She encourages business managers to view feedback as a “gift”. Viewing feedback in a positive light may increase the chances of a manager or teacher giving it to their employee or student, and this act will ultimately benefit everyone involved. However, the method used to give feedback is highly important. Petersen recommends giving it early once it appears to be needed, avoid shaming the recipient, and focus on behavior as opposed to personality. Additionally, the leader or employer must be aware of the recipient’s culture. For example, British culture is known for understating negative situations or feedback. Erin Meyer describes this in the article, “Giving Negative Feedback Across Cultures.” Meyer explains that German and Dutch cultures are more direct when giving feedback. Therefore, using knowledge of cultural differences in the workplace can help leaders promote a more productive and respectful work environment by giving feedback.