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The Millennial generation has entered the work force and they are here to stay. As the next generation readies take over our companies and lead our countries, we need to ensure they are prepared to handle the challenges that lie ahead.

As a leader who is also a mentor, I can tell you how important and rewarding an experience it is to help shape the next generation into future leaders. Helping another woman get a head start in her career or to follow her chosen path is an experience like no other. Over the years I have learned what works best and what to avoid as I help women forge their careers.

Here are five things I’ve learned about mentorship in my time working with young businesswomen.

Be authentic

What makes us unique is being ourselves, so allow your knowledge and personality to come through with the person you’re coaching.

Take your role as a mentor just as seriously as you take your job. In both roles, you are stepping in with the purpose of helping someone accomplish their goals and identify the steps they need to take to get there. How successful you are in your career is determined by the amount of time and effort you put into your job, just as how successful you are as a mentor will be determined by how much time and effort you put into guiding your mentee. Be yourself and be present.

Be a good role model

Among the ways I demonstrate my commitment is through action with community groups. I’m involved with Women in Search of Excellence (WISE) at Dell, an internal resource group focused on women’s issues and rooted in accelerating the role of women in the workforce. These types of resources provide women with access to good role models.

Share your knowledge and past experiences

Sharing the professional insights you’ve learned along the way is a great way to help your mentee, but sharing your own personal experience with her is even better. I love to share my experiences, both—good and bad—because it’s something people can learn from. When you tell someone how you succeeded, it helps her see how she could do so too; describing your failures will help her realized that it’s okay to fail and that it often leads to a much bigger success.

Give feedback

Kudos and constructive criticism can be a very rewarding part of the mentorship relationship. Feedback can help your mentee improve in an area they have been struggling with, or highlights where they have been successful so they can duplicate their actions to be more successful in the future. Keep your feedback simple, specific and actionable.

Encourage your mentee

It’s important to encourage your mentee to take that next big step and get them out of their comfort zone, while letting them know it is okay to be scared to pursue something new. Taking on the role of Dell Channel Chief was a daunting challenge that I faced head on. I’m proud to say that our channel partner program has grown to be well over 40% of Dell’s global revenue— the risk I took clearly paid off! It’s one of the biggest leaps of faith I’ve taken and one of the best decisions I have ever made in my career. 

Cheryl Cook is Vice-President of Global Channel and Alliances at Dell Inc.


What other things do great mentors do? Let us know by commenting below.

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