Benefits of having a mentor and why you should find one

Our colleague, Ioana, shares from her experience few thoughts about what you need to know about finding and keeping a mentor. She is part of our company for almost 2 years. Here is what she thinks about her path in our company:I came to this new company with a bitter taste from my previous experiences, only to find here the most stimulating bunch of open-minded people, that would end up changing my whole perspective. And one of the most interesting people I met at Kepler is my boss. She is an empowering leader with a lot of knowledge to share. She inspires me every day to go the extra mile, to take care of myself and to grow in every way possible. I never had a boss with such drive and ambition to be focused on my personal and professional development, until now. She made me think for the first time about bosses/leaders, mentors and what is the difference between them.

First, let’s define the two notions: BOSS and LEADER.

A BOSS manages the employees, while a LEADER inspires them to innovate, be creative, learn from mistakes. Every team has a boss, but what people need is a leader who will help them achieve greatness.

But what about a mentor? He/She can be your boss? A MENTOR is a trusted counselor, a guide, a tutor or a coach. Basically, a Mentor is someone who gives you pertinent advice and valuable guidelines to help you develop both professionally and personally. Etymologically, the word "mentor" is of Greek origin and is the name of the one who was appointed by King Ulysses to take care of his son, Thelemacus, while he was at war, in Homer’s “Odyssey”. A modern definition of mentoring describes it as "the process of supporting the evolution of another person as a planned action that is part of a process" (Mumford).

While your boss/leader is determined by your professional structure in which you work, a mentor can be anyone that brings inspiration to your life. A mentor is not mandatory to be your boss/leader, but he/she can guide you also to your professional life by giving you valuable tools and advice. If someone decides to be your mentor, this commitment is on a middle/long term, as a mentor should give you self-development objectives that both of you will evaluate over time.

What can go wrong when your boss is your mentor?

You may think that it’s an ideal situation to be mentored by your boss, because who knows the dos and don’ts of your company’s business better than him/her? Your boss also knows firsthand your strengths, your abilities, and your goals. It sounds perfect in theory, but there are situations when your boss becomes your mentor, and it all goes wrong.

If you are not comfortable disagreeing with one another, the disagreements might carry over into your working communications. There is an added familiarity that comes along with mentoring. Are you and your boss ready to keep that familiarity outside of the office?

In order to keep a healthy work environment, you should separate de two relationships:

  1. Boss – employee
  2. Mentor – mentee

Personal and professional lives should be kept separate. You can achieve that with a set of common sense boundaries. It’s ok to confide in your mentor about personal problems and ask for advice, but it’s out of the question to ask him/her for help in securing a promotion or a position outside the organization. If you both agree on a set of boundaries, and respect them to the bone, then there shouldn’t be any problem to be mentored by your boss.

A mentor can’t help you lock down a promotion, but he/she can provide valuable feedback as to why things didn’t go your way. If your expectations are fair and realistic, then it shouldn’t be a problem that your mentor is your boss.

Famous mentor – mentee relationships

Some of the most successful and influential people in history had mentors. One of the most famous mentor-mentee relationships is the one between former Apple CEO - Steve Jobs and Facebook’s CEO – Mark Zuckerberg. These two developed a mentor-mentee relationship since the early days of Facebook. They would often get together and discuss strategy. In 2011, when Steve Jobs passed away, Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook Page: “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”

The co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates was mentored by Berkshire Hathaway CEO, Warren Buffet. Buffet Is one of the most the most successful investors of this century. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet met at a formal dinner, organized by Bill Gates’ mother. Bill Gates admits he often turns to Buffet for advice and he calls him “one of a kind”.

Even Mother Theresa, one of the most admirable people of the twentieth century, had a mentor. She met Father Michael van der Peet while they were waiting for a bus in Rome. They developed a close friendship and confided in each other regularly.

The famous Oprah Winfrey admits she was mentored by the late author and poet, Maya Angelou. Oprah says: “Mentors are important and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship”.

Are you looking for a Mentor?

If you are at the beginning of the road as a software developer and you are in need of some form of guidance in your life, give us a call! At Kepler you will find inspiring people, armed with a lot of patience and knowledge, ready to guide you through the evolution of your career.


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