Last week, I worked with an amazing group of women - they were from the Not-For-Profit and Local Government sectors participating in Leadership development. Putting their sectors aside, what they concluded and what was of great interest to many was their hunger to understand how to go about accessing Mentors & Coaches for their Professional Development.
It was apparent that not much discussion or knowledge was available in their workplaces and it was their pro-activeness that drove this discussion. Here's what we discussed:
Mentors can be in the same workplace, sector, industry or can be from an entirely different industry, however, if we're discussing Leadership, it really doesn't matter where they operate or have operated - they could be retired.
Mentors can be assigned or better still, should be found or referred to you. Search someone out who you admire or someone who's recommended to you given past 'mentoring' experience.
They can be from the opposite gender which provides many benefits: gain a different perspective, leading & influencing men and women is different, get into their heads and understand how you're so different in the business world.
Be greedy and seek out several Mentors! One who has had experience with the issue you're navigating, someone in the same industry and someone who's a respected leader.
Should you pay a Mentor? Absolutely! You're tapping into a massive amount of tried and tested experience and advice. Unless it's a 'once off coffee chit chat' or a pro-bono package/arrangement then you'll definitely want to pay for this type of Professional Development.
The market is saturated with Coaches. You need to find someone who you respect and hopefully they come with recommendations and references.
A coach's skill is to guide and challenge you to find the solution you're seeking. They may have no experience with your industry, sector or goals/ideas - their craft is to get you thinking, reflecting, talking, visualizing, planning and action.
Alternatively, you can arrange and complete peer coaching or network coaching. By creating a small network of trusted allies, you can coach each other to seek out ideas and solutions.
Should you pay for a Coach? Oh yes! You're first session will be the 'trust, respect & relationship tester'. And from there your selection of the Coaching Package will determine the investment. And, that is what it is, an investment in your career.
Coaching requires discipline and accountability. If you're prepared to be answerable to yourself and a Coach and do what you've not currently doing then get a Coach.