What can a business mentor do for you?

It has been claimed that everyone who succeeds has had a business mentor; that is, someone who has taken an active interest in his or her professional development.

In Ancient Greek mythology Mentor was a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left to besiege Troy he left the care of his son and palace with Mentor.

In school, you may need to explore potential career choices or you may need guidance about how to make the best of college resources. Or you may need help in making the transition from student to worker.

While you are looking for work , you might be able to use some help to check your resume and cover letters, to help you get your foot in the door or to introduce you to other resources such as a professional organization.

In the world of work there is much research to indicate that those professionals and executives who report having had one or more mentors are typically happier with their career progress, earn more, and achieve more senior leadership roles than those who do not.

Why do you need a mentor?

Mentors are essential at all stages of your career

A mentor is a trusted guide, answer wizard, confidante, and champion. Whether you are just completing school, job hunting or beginning to work, there is always some uncharted territory you must navigate.

In a large organisation environment, the people who are most successful in transitioning to leadership roles are those who are able to adopt a ‘chameleon-like’ approach to selecting role models, from whom they can learn effective behaviours and skills This ‘chameleon’ strategy is characterised by a willingness to pick and choose from the most effective behaviours exhibited by a range of role-models, a readiness to experiment with new ways of doing things, and the ability to integrate new behaviours in a manner which is authentic and fits with the individuals own personal style and character.

While your direct manager is responsible for training you to do your job, your mentor will help you excel at your job."

More about mentoring in business here

So what do business mentors do?

Business Mentors can help you develop professionally and achieve your career goals?

Mentoring in business is a relationship that gives you the opportunity to learn from the experience of another, as well as to achieve new insights and perspectives in the sharing of and reflection on your own experience.

Some of the important functions that mentoring in business can include being a:

 Coach or counsellor,
 Sponsor and advocate,
 Role model,
 Supporter,
 Sounding board,
 Listener,
 Critical friend, and
 Career advisor.

Some of the issues that business mentors and protégés explore include:

 Career opportunities and prospects,
 Personal effectiveness,
 Interpersonal skills,
 Stress management,
 Self-awareness,
 Life purpose,
 Work-life balance,
 Business development,
 Networking,
 Motivation,
 Technical issues,
 Firm culture, and
 Leadership.

10 alternative career ideas here

So what is the difference between coaching and mentoring?




Shorter duration


On- going relationship


Generally structured may be in a series of sessions


More informal sessions as and when required

Focus on development issues at work


Career and personal development

Goal based and specific


Broader “whole person” and more long term



Coach may not need specific job experience


Mentor usually “been there and done that” and  shares experience


Agenda around specific goals


Agenda more driven by mentored person

Learn more about the lifeline exercise and how it can help you choose a career.

Business Mentoring Goals


 There is a wide range of possible areas of focus. To make the most of your mentoring relationship it is important to set some goals, even if they stay flexible and change over time.


Consider your primary purpose for having a mentor. Is it to become more effective in your current role, or are you planning or making a career transition that will require new skills and ways of interacting with people?


If you want to focus on issues that are primarily related to your current role, then your mentoring conversations will typically involve reflection on specific situations and incidents, examination of how you handled these, and insights from your mentors own experiences.


If your primary goals are related to career transition, then you will be likely to focus more on alternatives and tactics, barriers and development needs.


Take the time to think through why you want a mentor, and how you can make the most of the time, wisdom and support your mentor is offering.



How to find a Mentor

First look inside your organisation or College and check to see if your organization has a formal mentorship program. If not, step up to the plate and recommend starting a program.


  • Look around for good role models inside your organisation and approach an ask people . (they can only say no)
  • Tap into your professional networks and ask for a referral and approach and invite them out or a coffee.
  • Many professional associations offer a free or subsidised mentoring service.



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