Can Men Mentor Women?
Look at you…you’re smart, well liked, a leader, attractive, and really good at what you do. So why are you not as successful as you feel you should be?
Well, in business the old saying that “It’s not what you know as much as, who you know, is still valid in today’s fast paced business world….perhaps even more so. So, the next question is who do you need to know, and where do you find them so you can be more successful in your career or your business? Who is that person who will advance your career, give you wise advice, hold you accountable and always help you succeed? …It’s a mentor! What is a mentor? A mentor is someone who is older, and already traversed successfully the same path you’re now just taking. He or she is experienced, successful and willing to provide advice and guidance.Someone who has the desire to give back for the success they have achieved in their life. Or help you overcome the hard lessons in business they had to experience to grow from. When you want ultimate results, you want to be coached by a mentor – someone who’s been there and done that. Someone who has achieved and surpassed what you seek to achieve or accomplish. Someone you can learn from and someone who has high values, morals and who walks the talk in all aspects of his/her life.
So, Can a man mentor a woman?…read this and decide for yourself.
“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” Mary Kay Ash, founder Mary Kay Cosmetics
The numbers don’t lie: Women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, but very few of them make it to the top. For over a decade, mentorship of women by women has been seen as part of the solution, and workplaces from Goldman Sachs to the U.S. government has implemented programs to do just that. But what if the person best suited to mentor you is a man? Don’t let gender get in the way of a potentially critical professional relationship! There are plenty of men who haven’t let it stop them from fostering female proteges. In her new book Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg mentions a mentor of hers, Larry Summers. Retired Air Force Colonel Martha McSally, the first American woman to fly in combat, has said that all of her mentors in the military were men. Ruth Bader Ginsberg got her first job thanks to an intervention by one of her male law school professors. Using a mentor should be in your top 5 most important strategies to success.As a business strategy a business & life savvy mentor can make all the difference in building your business. By tapping the expertise of someone who’s already jumped the hurdles, you can reach your goals much quicker and with less cost in time, heartache, frustration and money. Mentoring is not an expense, it is an investment in you. Mentoring is defined by an agreement between a protégé and a business guru in your community or industry. Both sides understand that the purpose is to advance the protégé’s interests and goals. Mentoring isn’t a gripe session or a flurry of phone calls. It’s a formal process, with regular meetings and a system for reviewing progress and performance. The premise of such relationships is that the mentor has been there and done all that. In theory, the mentor is a business veteran who knows, viscerally, what it feels like to walk in your shoes. You, as protégé, agree to heed the advice and to work at change, typically not an easy task. “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” Maya Angelou, author and poet
So how can you identify a great male mentor for you outside your own company?
Seek out a good fit .“Make sure the mentor’s social style and values match your own as much as possible,” says Sid Walker, a sales performance coach and author of Trust Your Gut. Like all partnerships, you need trust, chemistry and commitment.
- Be subtle and less formal in your seeking a mentor.Few successful business men take well to a direct request for mentoring. It’s too much of an upfront commitment. “It is more appropriate to say, ‘Would you be willing to join me for lunch or breakfast? I need some advice and I would love an opportunity to pick your brain,'” suggests Barbara Danforth, who directs a mentoring program for businesswomen for the YWCA of Greater Cleveland. Alternatively, you can ask a mutual friend or associate to introduce you to a potential mentor.
- Establish written goals and expectations.Many protégés and mentors write down goals and expectations from the relationship. If that’s too formal for you, at least discuss, beforehand, exactly what you expect and want to achieve.
- Consider the potential mentors current past successes and current star power.A high-profile mentor may be able to open doors. In selecting one, think about how she or he might help your business. “If your mentor can speak about you glowingly with colleagues in your industry, you gain credibility,” says Alissa Krinsky, who runs Media Success, a Chicago-based media training company.
- Enlist a mentor to grow your business or corporation.Mentor relationships aren’t only for young women they can be invaluable to even veteran women business owners for taking their career or business to the next level. Evette White, for example, founded her Nashville, Tenn., marketing agency in 1983, when she was only 19. Twenty years later, the company was grossing $3 million a year. In recent years, White became a protégé in a yearlong mentoring program sponsored by The Committee of 200 (www.c200.org), a powerful organization of women business owners based in Chicago. “I was at the stage of considering partners and I needed to expand my resources,” White says. “I had to deal with the emotion and pride of owning my own business for as long as I had. It was scary to change.” Evette White, working with two mentors who had specific skills she needed, got on “a fast track through the stages of partnership.” Today, as chief executive with three male partners, one of whom was a former senior manager, White’s company, White, Thompson, Cunningham and Regen, is billing $12 million, and she’s ready for more challenges. Her advice: “You need to be responsible for connecting with the mentor, who has lots of other things to do. Take active ownership.” I recently finished mentoring a woman who owned a successful auto repair business for 30 years. She decided to sell it and start an entirely new career path. She needed mentoring to help her leave her safe and known career and jump into a new one. She needed someone to guide her through the sale of her business and creating her vision and plan for her new venture. Since I had done both of these things with my own business in the past I was able to guide her through the entire process.It was a wonderful experience for us both. She got through the fear of change, the doubt about the future, and is now thriving and starting a new career. Mentoring takes many shapes and forms.
- Give back.Mentoring to succeed has to be valuable to both parties. I mentor because I want to advance women in business. I do it because I feel the world will never reach its fullest potential until women and men are equally valued in society, business, government and even religion. So I do it for a bigger purpose than money. But, I still need to feel I am helping. I still need recognition from the Mentee that what she is learning matters. I still hope to get a referral or a fee or a donation to my non-profit. That is what I mean when I state that mentoring to be mutually rewarding must be a two-way street. The Mentor & the Mentee must work as a team. I have come to see that there are two types of people in life; Givers and Takers. I mentor, socialize with and work only with people who are givers in life. I do not mentor people who think only of themselves; for they are only takers. Society cannot move forward without givers to renew, pay back and leave this life-giving more than they took. Women; young and old need more men mentor models to move higher faster and farther in growing their business or climbing the career ladder. It is difficult for a man but much more difficult for a woman to succeed in lets face it a male dominated corporate and government world. Women need men mentors who care not only about their career and business aspirations, but the need for women to be given the same access to business success men have. Women need men mentors who understand the need for women to achieve equality in rising the corporate ladder and starting new businesses that will improve society and bring balance to an imbalanced world.
“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” Barbara De Angelis, author,
The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You must take it. ~Roseanne Barr
Their is a deep seeded gender bias, that while it is improving, exists to this date. Our world has many critical challenges and opportunities facing us all today.It is going to take empowered women to fix the mess we presently find ourselves in. Men created this mess and compassionate yet powerful women are critical and necessary to provide the solutions and get them in place.
Author: Steve Monahan, Philanthropist, author of Rescue Renew Rehome, Amazon Books.