Enlisting a Mentor
Working with a respected mentor is a powerful way to realize your potential—cultivating leadership, relationships, insights and opportunities that build skills and self-confidence. Pairing younger colleagues with seasoned professionals is an excellent way to transfer organizational culture, institutional history, and tacit knowledge, as well as technical expertise. It can also increase job satisfaction and commitment by young professionals, decreasing high turnover rates in conservation.
Many of the conservation leaders interviewed reflected on the importance of mentor(s) in their careers, people who inspired, encouraged, and stretched their understanding of what they could do. Several noted they continued to benefit from mentors throughout their careers, long after they were successful leaders themselves.
How do you find a mentor? Look for someone who you admire – not just for their position, but for how they work with and treat other people – and ask. Most people will be flattered – and honored to mentor someone who seeks them out with true intention to improve and succeed. More often than not, leaders choose who they want to mentor, based on the mentees skills, interests, commitment, and leadership potential. While most mentors are older than their proteges, that’s not a rule. Mentors can be peers or people with deep expertise or experience in a area new to you, regardless of relative age. It is also widely-recognized that the mentor can also benefit and learn from this special relationship with a less experienced colleague.