Women mentors share wisdom, experience, and perspective with the mentee, who is less experienced, by giving guidance toward personal growth. Mentoring relationships can be formal, such as an apprentice in business, or informal such as a parent.
History of Women Mentoring Women
Fifty years ago, the informal mentoring model was the norm. Many young women learned from the women mentors, the matriarchs, in their extended family. Women started working outside of the home more, the independent career-oriented women of the 1980s and 1990s learned business skills from their bosses. Self-sufficiency was a sought-after character trait. In the early 2000s, mistrust and isolation crept in after the 911 attacks. Facebook became mainstream in 2008 and a young woman had a world of contacts open to her. She could decide who she wanted to be online whether or not it represented who she was in person. With the rapid growth of social media in the last five years, there is social pressure to live your best life on IG or make sure your home is always Pinterest-worthy.
Younger women are almost afraid to be authentic or admit what they don’t know. Older women feel out of touch, irrelevant, and unneeded. To them, the younger generation of women seem to have it all together. There is a disconnect, and even though you can Google how to do almost anything; the missing piece is relationship.
Types of Women Mentors
There are many types of women mentors or coaches for different styles, different focus areas, and various seasons of life. You may have a variety of mentors or coaches or you may have one mentor or coach that gives you guidance in overlapping areas of your life. As a young woman raising a family I may need advice on marriage and parenting. In midlife, I may be challenged with finding my purpose once my kids are grown. I may be navigating in-law relationships when my kids marry. There is always someone a season or two ahead that can invest in you.
Either the mentor or the mentee can initiate the coaching relationship. A woman entering a season of uncertainty, whether she is 25, 40, or 50, can look for a trustworthy woman that she knows has experience and wisdom in navigating this unknown territory. Likewise, a woman with what I call “spendable wisdom” can look for connections with someone that can use her help. In my own life, I have experienced both. I continue to seek out those women I can invest in and women that are a few steps ahead of me.
What to Look For in Women Mentors
There are common denominators in all healthy mentoring relationships. http://www.markeymotsinger.com/free-resources#YouVersionPlans
- Authenticity/ credibility/ trust: The mentor needs to be respected and trustworthy in character. Both women need to commit to authenticity to form a relationship of trust with each other.
- Clarify expectations and set boundaries: Decide when and where you are going to meet including how often and how long meetings will be. Will you have a structured curriculum (like a book study) or decide what to talk about based on life challenges? How will you communicate in between meetings? Will there be assignments to complete before meeting again?
- Purpose: Define together what the purpose of the mentoring relationship will be. What do you need, and what can I provide?
- Patience/ relationship building: Learning and growing take time; the mentee will experience change at their pace. The mentor is giving guidance, the mentee is responsible for implementation.
- Accountability: The mentor should inspire growth in the mentee and encourage them to reach their goals by challenging them to follow through on what they have committed to even when it’s hard.
- Begin with the end in mind: Decide how long (weeks, months, a year) the mentoring commitment is for before you begin. You will re-evaluate at the “endpoint” and explore the options. You may decide to end the commitment, continue with the same format, or change the focus.
- Explore next steps: There should be a plan that the mentor and mentee, who are in a trusting relationship, work up together that is in the best interest of the mentee to get her toward her goals.