How did you get to where you are now in your business?
I’m sure you could list a lot of factors. But every successful business leader will always point to specific people in their lives who mentored them along the way.
Books and classes are powerful, but nothing can replace actual people stepping into your life to guide you.
That’s why I’m excited to have Ken Blanchard AND Claire Diaz-Ortiz on the Building a StoryBrand podcast this week. They’ve developed a process for mentoring that will help you begin a strong mentoring relationship, whether you need a mentor or want to become one.
The six elements they outline in their process (forming the acronym MENTOR) will show you how to begin a mentoring relationship that could make all the difference in another person’s life — and in your own.
When Betsy and I got married, we created a mission for our relationship. We wanted it to be restorative, both for each other and for those who came into our home.
And it truly impacts how we make decisions together, from how we speak to each other to the kind of furniture we buy.
That intention and vision is key to a strong mentoring relationship, too, as Ken and Claire point out.
“The first step is creating a clear mission statement for the mentoring relationship,” Claire says. “Why are you together as a mentor and mentee, and what do you hope to get out of it?”
Ken adds, “Good performance starts with clear goals, and if you don’t have the sense of what your intention is, how are you going to evaluate how well you’ve done?”
Talking about that mission is a good way to see whether or not you and your mentoring partner have good chemistry. Ken calls it the “essence” of the relationship, explaining that “if you’re going to work with somebody, there are two aspects. One is essence and the other is form. Essence is heart to heart and values to values, and form is what you’re going to do. Be careful not to jump to form right away before you have essence because it’ll bite you.”
In other words, don’t kick off your mentoring relationship entirely on practical, nitty-gritty details. Take time to understand and listen to each other, and make sure you have the kind of long-term affinity that will sustain your relationship over time.
The next step in Ken and Claire’s process helps you establish how and when you’ll engage with each other. Commit to regular meetings — say, once a week or once a month, and schedule them in advance.
Then, figure out what those meetings look like. Technology gives us a lot of options to connect, but make sure you find a way that suits both your personalities.
“Maybe they want to meet in person,” Claire says, “or maybe they want to exchange a bunch of emails, but figuring out how you’re going to engage is really essential.”
How can you expand each other’s horizons?
“Cultivating productive relationships is really essential for the partnership,” Claire notes. “You both have a network to offer the other, essentially.”
A lot of mentees approach a mentoring relationship thinking that they’ll benefit from their mentor’s relationships. But it works both ways, and mentees can offer value to their mentor, too.
Like any strong bond between people, your mentoring partnership needs a strong foundation of trust.
“Without a trusting relationship, a mentor-mentee relationship will fall apart,” Ken says.
He also breaks down the elements of trust for us. There are several dimensions to it, which he unpacks with the ABCD acronym:
A is Ability — the person’s got the skills necessary to do what you’re talking about.
B is Believable — if they say something, you can count on it.
C is Connectedness — you feel excited when you see them.
D is Dependable — if they say they’re going to meet, they show up.
In a good mentoring partnership, you’ll create opportunities for each other.
“It may be obvious that a mentor creates opportunities for a mentee,” Claire says, “but what you’ve got to remember here is this idea that the mentee is also giving back to the mentor, and the mentee needs to feel empowered to think about how he or she can also be helping their mentor.”
As Ken and Claire point out, humility is key in a good mentoring relationship. Whether you’re mentoring or being mentored, know that you have a lot to learn from the other person as well as a lot to teach him or her.
Review and Renewal
As your mentoring relationship grows over time, you can expect it to change.
With that, it’s important to be intentional about reviewing and renewing your mentoring partnership.
“Mentoring relationships are going to go through ebbs and flows,” Claire says. “There are going to be seasons where you’re really engaged and then seasons where you don’t necessarily need to call upon the other person, and I think that’s just part of the process.”
Periodically check in with each other to see how your relationship aligns with that mission you set out and make sure it’s still a good fit all around.
I love Ken and Claire’s process because it’s born out of mutual respect and humility, in both parts of the relationship. As Ken succinctly puts it, “whether you’re a mentor or a mentee, it’s a win-win.” I’m grateful they’ve given us all a process and permission, even, for beginning a mentoring relationship.
Are you a mentor or a mentee? What has helped you create a good relationship with your mentoring partner? Leave a comment and share what you’ve learned.