Mentors matter and make a difference through positive impacts on engagement, professional growth, development and talent retention – particularly for women and minorities.

In our book Up Is Not the Only Way, my co-authors Beverly Kaye, Lynn Cowart and I shared five factors needed to bring development to life – Courage, Commitment, Collaboration, Connectedness and Confidence. All five certainly relate in multiple ways to mentoring; however, for women considering mentorships, I suggest the first two, Courage and Commitment may play slightly larger roles.

Studies show women are often reluctant to seek out mentors. In one recent survey only 21% indicated they were comfortable requesting a mentor – some not wanting to appear less capable – or perhaps desiring to prove they don’t need help. The fact is we ALL need help from others. We can learn through others’ stories – sometimes more quickly and less painfully than we might on our own. So, be courageous. Ask, you may be amazed at what you’ll learn.

And protégés aren’t the only learners in mentoring partnerships. Mentors frequently express surprise at how much they learn from the experience. Mentors stand to gain greater self-awareness of the value of their own journeys. Mentoring is a chance to build and polish coaching competence, and, for some, to get an early peek at talent they may want to bring into their function or team in the future. So, commit to sharing your stories – formally or informally – with others who can benefit from your journey.

Drawing on Courage and leaning in to Commitment can result in mutually beneficial growth – a win-win opportunity.

When your organization’s ready to talk about mentoring processes, contact Talent Dimensions to learn from our decades of experience helping clients build powerful and sustainable development strategies.