The Answer to the Mentor Shortage

Despite the widespread acknowledgment of mentorship's benefits, many individuals face a daunting challenge: finding a suitable mentor. Mentorship is a tricky road because while some programs will "match" you with a mentor, the mentee and mentor must connect on a deeper level to get the whole experience. 

Mentorship requires dedication on both sides but is not always a reciprocal relationship. One person gives more and is needed more, and not always at opportune times for the giver. Now, the mentor does get a reward; they experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction through the dopamine boosts derived from feeling needed, offering valuable advice, and the positive emotions associated with contributing to others' growth and well-being.

As you pursue a mentor, remember what you ask of this person. They need to be able to make the time for you, be honest and willing to provide difficult feedback and push you out of your comfort zone into the space where growth happens. Mentors often have demanding schedules and commitments, making allocating sufficient time for mentorship activities challenging. Be specific with your goals and work together to set expectations between you and your mentor to ensure a productive mentorship relationship. Finally, don't wait around believing that if you had a good mentor, you could get "there."

Too many spend their entire careers looking for a mentor, overlooking the value of other relationships that come and go throughout their career. It is time to take another look at the important people who come into and out of your life and start seeking new relationships that can contribute to the person you are becoming, as much, if not more, than a mentor.

While a mentor can provide guidance, support, and valuable insights that propel you toward success, other options exist.


Don't underestimate the influence of a good manager. The manager's role is to help you succeed in your position, overseeing your work and holding you accountable. However, they are also responsible for your annual review, workforce planning, and development. They look good when you do well at work. They can act as your sponsor and mentor but are ultimately responsible to the organization and their boss. 


Sponsors advocate for and support individuals' career advancement within organizations by providing opportunities, visibility, and endorsements. They actively seek out and create opportunities for you within the organization, including assignments, projects, and roles that align with your career goals and aspirations. They also advocate for your talents and abilities when others do not have enough information or a differing opinion. They are invested in your success and actively working to help you advance your career within the organization. They provide guidance, feedback, and strategic advice to help you navigate your career journey successfully.


Coaches work with individuals (or groups) to achieve positive, long-term, measurable results in an often-defined timeframe. Coaching involves establishing clear and specific goals that align with the client's aspirations, values, and priorities. Coaching is facilitated through questions to prompt deep thinking, self-reflection, and increased awareness to drive actionable steps and implement strategies to achieve desired outcomes, with coaches providing support and accountability. Importantly, coaches create a safe space for exploration without fearing political consequences in a confidential environment. Coaches are not providing the answers; instead, they empower individuals to discover their own solutions and insights, fostering a sense of ownership and self-directed growth. It is an empowering experience.

Thought Partner

A Thought Partner relationship is built with an individual, usually in your profession or industry, at about the same level as you and with the same ambition. This relationship is built on the premise of mutual success and abundance, knowing there is enough for everyone. Because trust is at the center of this relationship and egos are at a minimum, ideation and co-creation push each individual forward. You exchange feedback, even when it is difficult because it is in the best interest of your thought partner. Industry leaders thrive on these partnerships because each brings a unique perspective from their experiences. They are especially successful when the partners are focused on the possibilities instead of the barriers. 

In the long run, mentorship can be incredibly valuable. But it's important to recognize that it's not always the definitive answer to every developmental need. While mentorship can be a stepping stone in our growth, understanding the broader landscape of partnerships allows us to adapt, evolve, and continue thriving on our developmental path. It's not about finding the one-size-fits-all solution but rather embracing the diversity of supportive relationships that contribute to our journey to success and fulfillment.

 🗣️ Growth—whether in leadership or life—is an inside job. It's about investing in yourself, your challenges, and your strategies. Get leadership content curated and delivered biweekly by signing up here:


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