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  • Writer's pictureLatoya Smith

Why Everyone Should Have a Mentor


Let’s talk about the importance of mentorship shall we?


As I’m reflecting on my career (professional career mainly) and especially after this last move I just made, I thought about my mentors. Why? Because if not for mentorship and sponsorship (because there is a difference and we will get into that on another day), I would not be in the position I am in today, period. Really Toya? But you worked so hard, you’ve sacrificed so much, you could have gotten there by yourself anyway.

WRONG.


Do you know how many hard-working, fully capable people get passed up everyday for senior roles within a company? And let’s not even talk about intersectionality, right? Because if we’re honest, the majority of women of color with families are passed up and the fortunate few that make it to the top almost always had a strong mentor or sponsor or two.

Just to be clear, a sponsor is a person who has power or influence and uses it for you.

Okay so back to why mentorship so important. Because most mentors, if effective can elevate you and according to the Harvard Business Review, mentors can provide different degrees of support, check it out:


  1. Mentor – someone that provides you with advice, support, empathy or coaching

  2. Strategizer – someone who shares “insider information” about advancing and strategizes to get ahead. This person teaches you the corporate politics game.

  3. Connector – someone whose well connected and highly regarded and happy to make introductions to influential people.

  4. Opportunity Giver – someone that can directly provide that high visibility opportunity.

  5. Advocate/Sponsor – someone who will publicly advocate on your behalf for a promotion, fight for you and make your case when you can’t.

You can have all of the above in just one mentor or person, but you may also have go-to mentors for each or several.


But the biggest takeaway is that you should have one, you need one, you deserve at least one. And when you make it, do not get amnesia and suddenly become too busy to pour into the next generation coming after you.



Speaking from my own personal experience, I am so blessed to have several mentors that serve different purposes in different capacities and phases in my life. But I will tell you that I also put in the work to seek them out, build a rapport and establish trust-worthy relationships to cultivate these relationships.


I now for a fact, if not for my sponsor, my mentor, my coach, I would not be in the position I’m in at the moment and I would not be not well-positioned run the place at some point, soon.


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