Thursday, February 01, 2018

How to find a mentor ?

I landed in London last night and would be spending the next five days meeting the other LeSS trainers, and attending the LeSS conference.
My good friend @Vijay Dafal, who is London learned about my trip, and we caught up for lunch today. We met after nearly ten years or so. We used to work at Valtech before.
We took a trip down memory lane for a while and how we are continuing our journey learning and practicing Agile. Both agreed that It was Craig Larman who made a lot of difference in our lives. 
After returning to my hotel, I pondered a bit about how I ended up having Craig as my mentor. Thought would jot down few thoughts about characteristics of a good mentor based on my personal experiences:
  1. Learning in every interaction: Mentors will make you learn during every conversation. They will neither waste their time nor yours. If you are not learning from your mentor during each conversation, think twice. 
  2. Challenge the status quo: They will make you uncomfortable by challenging your ideas and status quo. 
  3. Mentees commitment: Mentor's effectiveness depends on mentees commitment as well. If you throw the towel as they make you uncomfortable, then the relationship won't work.  
I used to run mentoring programs in organisations, and my data shows that only one out of ten mentees are truly committed to completing the assignments and learning. In one of the instances, I had asked mentees to read some books, and one of them came back and said, it is silly to read books as they are not in uni anymore. 
Many believe that, once they start their careers in corporates, it is the end of the journey in learning/to read books. It is an unfortunate truth. 
4. They will give away everything they know: Mentors will not hide anything, and they don't feel insecure. If you feel your mentor is not willing to share the sources of their ideas then, your mentor has a long way to go. Don't follow them.
Ask your prospective mentor the origin of their ideas, and if they keep harping, it is their idea, and they are not willing to share the books/research, then change the mentor. If you feel, your mentor is insecure in sharing the origin of their ideas, then abandon them and run. 
5. Humble and respectful: Even though mentors will challenge your ideas and make you uncomfortable, deep down in their heart, they are kind, humble and respectful. 
Sometimes I see some master chefs program on TV. Some of these so called "Master chefs" are so arrogant and have seen them publicly humiliate the participants. I personally don't think they are the good mentors/role models. 
There is a thin line between being assertive, questioning status quo and being arrogant. I am sure you will feel the difference while dealing with the right mentor. 
6. Your life will be impacted drastically and positively over a period of several years.
Before I end this post, let me ask you this:
Who are your mentors?  Do you want to add anything else that I might have missed to this list?
If you have not registered for the LeSS conference London, you still have time. Register now
Here are my upcoming Certified LeSS Practitioner courses in Australia:
Sydney: March 26th - 28th. Register here
Melbourne: April 23rd - 25th. Register here

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