In the corporate world, I learned how to be a great mentor to others as well as what makes for a supermentee, and even how to land a mentor you’d like to enlist. When I left the corporate world to become an entrepreneur/speaker/author, I learned the most important lesson of all on this front–what kinds of mentors are truly needed for success.
The six types of mentors that follow will push you to the front of the line as an entrepreneur or in corporate life (and they don’t necessarily have to be 6 different people).
1. The Path Blazer
This type of mentor is an expert in your industry or chosen path and can dramatically shorten the learning curve for you. They share their “been there, done that” perspective and illuminate your category in ways that would take you years to see. They can cut through systems and processes and are adept at getting things done–the kind of things that you want to get done. They can share hard lessons learned and best practices as they blazed a path similar to the one you want to be on.
As I became an entrepreneur, I had several Path Blazer mentors (current speakers and authors) that taught me what to expect in the professional speaking world and in the universe of authorship. I even enrolled some online help by investing in courses from “virtual mentors” like Michael Hyatt.
It’s irrefutable. Making the effort and investment to learn from those who went before you is one of the fastest ways to jumpstart your journey.
2. The Sounding Board
I, like many adults, like to think out loud. And I don’t like to think in a vacuum. So what do you do when you’re a solopreneur or tucked away in an isolated business environment? You go out and find a Sounding Board mentor.
Anyone who has ever “bounced something off” someone knows it can sharpen thinking and generate confidence in or poke holes in ideas. Research from Berkeley even found having a sounding board you can debate ideas with can generate 25 percent more ideas altogether.
3. The Success Magnet
This mentor type serves as a role model for success as they’ve simply achieved so much. He/she doesn’t have to be in your industry; in fact, it’s better if they aren’t so you get fresh perspective on the art and science of success in and of itself.
There’s a reason why there is so much written on principles for success. A Success Magnet mentor helps uncover real world, visible lessons about what it takes to overcome obstacles of all types and succeed.
Definitely add this person to your Personal Board of Directors.
4. The Campaigner
The Campaigner is a dedicated advocate; they’re a fan of yours and will speak on your behalf in the pursuit of new career or business opportunities. They’re both a reference and referrer, connecting you to possibilities. Some argue that mentors should be kept separate from such direct career/business enhancing tasks. I’m not one of them.
5. The Mirror Mentor
This mentor type is someone you can count on to tell you like it is. They know you well, know your strengths and opportunities, your background, and your tendencies. They won’t let you off the hook. They’ll hold up a mirror to you, forcing you to see yourself as is and things for the way they really are. They will challenge you, insert healthy tension into your path, and serve as an accountability partner.
Not the easiest mentor to work with. But the easy thing and the right thing rarely share the same road. The Mirror Mentor in my life has led to tremendous self-awareness and personal growth.
6. The Reverse Mentor
I knew a very high-ranking P&G official who every summer would enroll a summer intern to serve as a reverse mentor–someone who could share perspective from a position underneath himself. It was someone who could share how the exec was coming across to his organization, what stories were told about him.
It’s mentoring, in reverse, because it’s from the ground up rather than from the top down. I’ve found Reverse Mentors a powerful way to ensure you’re living true to your values and in a way congruent with the story you want to tell.
So enroll the right mentors and your career/business will start rolling.
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This article by Scott Mautz also appeared on Inc.com. To read more Inc. articles by Scott Mautz, click here.