Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women on Business writer
A few days ago I received an out-of-the-blue email from a former intern at my firm thanking me and my business partner “for being such fantastic mentors.” It was great to hear from her and learn about what she’s now doing a decade later. And, it was also a surprise – a very pleasant one – to hear that she attributes some of her professional knowledge to the guidance and information she received during her tenure at our firm.
It reinforced something that I hadn’t thought about in a while – that we are often regarded as mentors even when we’re not aware of it. And that being a mentor, either formally or informally, really does make a difference and can touch people’s lives. As women, we have an important responsibility to be aware of the positive impact we can have if we make the time to mentor others.
There’s no escaping it – when women reach certain levels of success, we become role models. Because there are fewer women in positions of power, we are often observed closely by others as models of leadership in the workplace. By being available as a mentor to other women – and also to men – we can lead by example as professionals and leaders, give others the benefit of our experience and perspective, and reap the reward of seeing others succeed in part because of our input. The other side of it is that this, no doubt, gives us the weight of responsibility in modeling workplace behavior. However, that’s a small price to pay for the positives that are derived.
Mentoring is a must, though it takes time and energy many women don’t feel they have. It is vital for women who have achieved success in their careers to help other women. In order to reach the critical mass needed to impact the cultures of organizations, women who have made it, or are higher up on the organization chart, must lend a hand.
So when others view you as inspiring, knowledgeable, or wise – take it as a wonderful compliment. And though it may initially make you a bit uneasy, give it some time and know that you’re doing important work that will positively impact not only the women who learn from you, but their organizations as well.
Oh, and by the way. Have you had a wonderful mentor in your life whom you have never thanked? Maybe now’s the time.
What do you think? Please share!