How Being a Mentor Can Help Your Own Career
The research is clear: The key to diversity and inclusion is mentorship.
Interested in having a direct impact on women advancing in the outdoor industry? Are you a director or executive with years of experience and advice to offer? We invite you to consider becoming a mentor!
If your company doesn’t already have a mentorship program in place, consider lobbying to get one off the ground. The research is clear: The key to diversity and inclusion is mentorship. Even without a program, you can always act as a mentor in an unofficial capacity. The beauty of mentorship, versus sponsorship, is your mentee can be at a totally different company than your own (Camber Exchanges are a great place to build industry relationships and possibly find a mentee or mentor). A mentee-mentor relationship should focus on personal and professional development, with the mentor providing the mentee with emotional support, confidence, and advice, particularly when it comes to navigating corporate politics. Feedback and camaraderie should flow both ways.
At Camber Outdoors, we run the Ann Krcik Professional Mentoring Program, a cross-company, cross-industry mentoring initiative for women in the active-outdoor industries. Our program facilitates one-on-one learning and leadership development opportunities between director/manager-level and director/executive-level women. Every year, we receive substantially more mentee applications than available mentors, limiting the scope of our program. Although we’ve closed applications for the 2020 year, please consider applying down the road.
Why become a mentor?
We all know there are benefits to having a mentor. Throughout the five years we’ve run our own mentoring program, however, we’ve learned that mentoring is more of a two-way street than most people realize. For example, research shows that mentors are six times more likely to advance their own career by participating in a mentoring program. Plus, mentors in the Ann Krcik Professional Mentoring Program have consistently told us that the experience of working with a mentee had a significant impact on them and their careers. Often, mentors learn just as much as their mentees.
Here are three ways mentoring can help your career:
1. It can enhance your leadership skills.
Feedback goes both ways in a mentee-mentor relationship. Your mentee can not only provide direct feedback regarding your people skills and impact of advice, but conversations with a mentee can also spark fresh ideas and encourage self-reflection.
“The mentoring program has impacted me in such a big way,” says Deborah Beggan, vice president and brand manager at Helly Hansen. “As a mentor you learn so much from your mentee—new insights, fresh ideas—you pick up the energy from young talent and it reinforces your leadership style and reminds you to take your own advice! It’s pretty cool!”
2. It can encourage personal and professional growth via forced reflection.
A candid conversation about your own experiences can help you identify your major workplace successes and those things that maybe didn’t work so well. Maybe you faced significant barriers early on in your career—by identifying them and reflecting on the experience, you can work to remove similar obstacles for others in your own workplace.
“Being a mentor provides me a reason to step back from my day-to-day and reflect on underlying experiences and dynamics,” says Linda Balfour, vice president of marketing at Superfeet. “It’s given me a way to help someone else benefit from my experiences and inspires me to keep learning. I enjoy the camaraderie of mentorship and how being part of a formal mentoring relationship opens the door for honest conversation, humility, and a partnership that we both benefit from.”
3. It can build personal satisfaction and investment in your industry.
There’s a great deal of personal satisfaction in making a difference to the career development of another person. Not only can it improve your own confidence in the workplace, but it also helps you feel more invested in the industry as a whole. Plus, it’ll increase your ability to relate to junior staff.
“I felt, as a lawyer, when I was mentoring and working with kids, that I gained a level of groundedness that I just couldn’t get sitting on the forty-seventh floor of a fancy firm,” says former First Lady Michelle Obama, arguably the biggest advocate for female mentorship in the United States. “[Mentoring] gives me joy—it makes me feel like my life has a purpose.”
Throughout her career, Ann Krcik asked, “Who is missing from the leadership table? Whose voice would help us make better decisions?” She believed the broad inclusion of individuals and industry leaders drove smart and effective business decisions. Through her mentoring, she helped new and diverse voices to the heard and through our work, we hope to do the same.
Interested in becoming a mentor through the Camber Outdoors program?
Reach out to Sasha McGhee to learn more.
Interested in starting a mentorship program at your company?
Reach out to Amy Luther to learn more.