Navigating the world of IT as a woman was hard. Most of the time I was the only woman at the table. As a clinician by trade, I did not often understand the language, the processes or the culture. It was overwhelming.
Luckily, I had a woman mentor. She was a leader in the division and took time to show me the ropes, answer all my questions, and gently guide how I acclimated into a strong culture of male and “techy” dominance. She was kind, honest and forthcoming, which was exactly what I needed. To this day, I remain grateful for her and contribute much of my success to her wisdom.
The gift of mentorship for women in leadership is immeasurable. They create allies, build confidence and help navigate politics and culture. And they create connections that last a lifetime.
I’ve had the honor to mentor many women throughout my career. It’s one the of the most rewarding things I do- it fills MY cup. Here are my tools to successful mentoring:
Create a psychologically safe space for your mentee
Set ground rules for how the mentoring sessions will be conducted
Have them set goals for the mentoring and send agendas before each mentoring session so you can be prepared
Use your experiences to guide them- real examples always go farther than theory or textbook passages
Give direct but constructive feedback in a professional way- it’s the gift that helps them grow
Provide exercises and tools to back up any teachings
Keep relationship lines clear. When you are mentoring, you are not their friend. You are not there to agree with everything they say. Stay objective.
Don’t forget to be their cheerleader, and always sprinkle in the positive.
This work fills my cup. It lets me help another woman achieve their goals, it creates a safe space for self-exploration and visioning. Most of all, it connects women in the working world in a way that lifts both the mentor and mentee up to be better. How will you lift other women leaders up with mentoring?
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