No one exists in a vacuum, especially not in the business world. The rise up to a management position requires networking, mentoring, and coworkers helping along the way. When you reach upper management, you need a mentor on your side even more. You’re dealing with pressure and situations that you don’t encounter before you reach this level in the corporation, so getting a mentor who has years of experience in this environment is essential. Take your time choosing a mentor, however. You want someone you can easily communicate with, who is a natural teacher, and who can take your input, suggestions, and preferences into consideration for your mentorship. Once you’ve found the perfect mentor, you need to know how to apply their tips to improve your leadership abilities.
Get Multiple Input Sources
After taking advice from your mentor, consult with other advisors and colleagues within your company. You don’t want a single point of view to affect all of your decisions. Once you get second and third opinions, compare your mentor’s advice, your original viewpoint, and the additional input to determine the correct course of action. When you apply your mentor’s advice to your leadership development, you want to stay true to your personal preferences and principles without making newbie mistakes.
Discuss Big Changes
If you want to make a major change to your leadership style, talk with your mentor to determine what the long-term effects might be. You might only be thinking in the short term, while your mentor can see the long-term impact that comes from taking a different leadership approach. Ultimately, you’re the one making the decisions, but your mentor is there to give you solid advice on making the right choices.
If you run into a situation that your mentor can’t provide input on, don’t panic. Ask whether they have someone in their business network that can help. If so, utilize this network to get advice. The ability to gain knowledge on how to handle specialized situations will provide you with a valuable resource going forward. Sometimes, online forums and groups from Linkedin and other leadership websites can provide this information to you, but you may have to post your unique situation to get help from others.
Gracefully Accept Constructive Criticism
The main reason that you seek out a mentor is because you don’t know everything. If you did, you wouldn’t need a mentor at all, you’d just go straight to the top without any help. Recognize that any constructive criticism is just that – constructive. There’s no need to get defensive or ignore the advice because it goes against what you thought was correct. 360 assessments can offer this type of feedback and is a great resource to set goals and improve upon your abilities and behaviors. It’s nothing personal, it’s your mentor’s observations, and they’re telling you to help you. Gracefully accept constructive criticism instead of getting upset, and you’re on the path to successful leadership.