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To be a Mentor, Or not to be

By Dr. Gopi Vora, D.O., TeamHealth

What is a Mentor?

Mentorship, a word that is all too familiar to all of us. In medicine, mentorship is thought to be essential during early career development, and while you can learn about medicine and business by reading textbooks, mentors teach you how to practice medicine and conduct business.

A mentor is someone experienced, who advises their mentee on how to expand their network, helps them craft a career vision and provides tips and strategies to succeed while increasing their mentee’s visibility with projects and people. Mentors help mentees understand the ‘unwritten rules’ of their organization. Sponsors, on the other hand, connect their protégés to career opportunities, providing their active network connections while making new connections for and create network connections for them. Sponsors publicly endorse and actively advocate for their protégés advancement. A 2017 Harvard Business Review notes women are over-mentored and under-sponsored when compared to their male peers and it is not always about picking and choosing between a mentor and sponsor. Both are essential and each applies during a different phase of one’s career.

Leaders & Daughters global survey in 2017 shows women do not seek mentors. Therefore, organizations need to develop more mentoring programs for the advancement of women’s careers. Organizations such as McKinsey, a worldwide management consulting firm, has the largest percentage of women in C-level positions, as they encourage and mandate senior executives to mentor women at lower levels. TeamHealth has a Women in Leadership mentoring program, which formalizes mentorship and fosters a culture of mentorship.

Additionally, sponsorship programs are essential to retaining talent in an organization. When employees feel they are encouraged and promoted, they are more likely to contribute to the growth and success of the organization. Not only is this a great retaining tool for an organization, but for recruiting as well. It also allows the organization to be confident that their pipeline of future leaders is strong and that they have the future talent they need to attract for the company’s success. It is a natural progression for an established mentor to become a sponsor willing to endorse the protégé as they seek to further their careers. Of course, sponsorship programs are more formal and structured in contrast to mentorship programs.

It is essential for all of us to mentor someone and seek a mentor/sponsor to advance professionally. Mentoring is not always about having expertise in a subject matter or technical skills. Rather mentoring is about helping mentees with leadership skills to move forward so they can lead their careers and company forward, as seen by many examples from the mentorship program at TeamHealth. Sir Isaac Newton said it best, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” There are programs to help, and we as individuals need to actively pursue those opportunities with our mentors/sponsors. We need to determine if a mentor or sponsor is appropriate at a certain phase of our career growth.

TeamHealth has a Women in Leadership mentoring program, which fosters a culture of mentorship and formalizes the mentor-mentee relationship.

Follow this link if you would like to join the Women in Leadership Facebook group. Or, e-mail us to join at . We will keep you updated on the latest news, webinars, meetings, opportunities and more.

If you know a colleague or friend at TeamHealth who would like to be part of this group, pass this information along. If you have any questions about this group, visit our Women in Leadership page website to learn about our purpose and development opportunities.