The benefits of having a mentor are widely known and often talked about. A good mentor can help break psychological barriers when starting a new company, propel your career or simply challenge and inspire you.
Yet we tend to think of mentorship as a one-way street in which the mentees get all the benefits. Though less talked about, they are no less important. I would argue that the mentoring relationship goes both ways, the learnings gained by being a mentor are just as valuable as those the mentee receives.
Being a mentor, and seeing your work or role through someone else's eyes, can shine a new perspective on your career or venture. Not to mention, the personal joy of becoming a part of the success of someone is also very rewarding. Last but not least, a mentor learns by teaching, as much as a mentee learns by observing.
This article will take a closer look at some of the benefits of becoming a mentor and then provide an overview of (German) mentor organizations where you can get involved.
Get a Fresh Perspective
Mentoring someone can make you look at your career from a new angle, which can give a whole new perspective. Take, for example, an experienced marketing professional mentoring a recent graduate who is starting a career in marketing. The mentor can stay on top of current trends, as well as get to know the customers better by looking through the mind of the millennium generation. Combined with the mentor’s marketing experience, this new perspective can bring new ideas and learnings, which are as valuable as the one the mentee can get.
Learn New Skills
You might be a very good HR professional who can teach someone less experienced the tricks for success in the field. That, however, does not mean that you have very good leadership and problem-solving skills. By mentoring someone, you can slowly develop these skills because, indirectly, you are leading someone by sharing knowledge and giving good advice. Plus, when you teach something to another person, you discover all of the details that you don’t completely understand yourself.
Undoubtedly, passing your knowledge to someone curious, someone you see as your younger self (not necessary in age, but in experience), is rewarding in itself. A Boston Globe article states: “The brain responds to such cooperative behavior by releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine,” Dr. Helen Riess said, “and helping someone else improve — or even just watching an improvement — makes us, as empathetic beings, feel better.”
Therefore, we ought to start looking at mentoring relationships as a two-way street. The benefits for both the mentee and the mentor are undeniable. So why not start now?
Join the Fun
A lot of companies have already established an internal mentoring scheme. But if you'd like to branch out - here are some mentor organizations that can't wait for you to join the fun:
Complementors - A peer-to-peer mentoring platform
Mentor Me - Mentoring organization for female social sciences students
The DO School- Mentoring for young entrepreneurs around the world
Rock Your Life! - Building bridges between pupils, students and companies
BuddY e.V. - Supporting educational chances of children and youth
Die Komplizen - Mentoring for school pupils
Women’s Broadway - Mentoring scheme for women in senior positions
If you know any other organizations that should be listed here, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Originally published November 20, 2015