I published a post on one of my other blogs The Practical Professional about Gauging Your Risktaking Competency for an Ever-Changing Workplace that covered three levels of risktaking needed for today’s complex, workplace environments.
What prompted me to write the post was an uptick in the number of mentoring requests that I’ve received from female professionals over the last six months looking to reinvent themselves on a more solid risktaking foundation.
Because I offer only three slots on a three month rotational basis on a range of topics that I consider myself qualified to mentor, when I received more requests on a single focus area, in this case, personal / professional risktaking, well, I did sit up and take notice.
What might be triggering this increase in mentoring requests for personal and professional risktaking? I’ll get to this a bit later in the post...
The Evolving Female Risktaker
I always ask a potential mentee about whether they had attempted to find a mentor inside their company, if applicable, before reaching outside their organization. There are those who sought me out because of my specialty area of risktaking. Others were referred to me by former mentees or an article, blog post, or my book on innovation.
I’m still (unpleasantly) surprised when women tell me they were discouraged or turned down by a female leader because they didn’t possess “professional currency” for the mentoring relationship to work. When did it become part of the mentoring landscape that you needed to bring something of value to the table before approaching a mentor. I thought this was what mentoring is about?
Risktaking Topics + Mentoring Flow
Mentoring professionals in helping them reach their personal and professional risktaking goals really depends on where they are along the spectrum. In other words, are they just beginning their risktaking hero’s journey or are they more experienced or are they seeking mastery, e.g., leading high-impact / high-risk initiatives, programs, or projects.
Why All the Fear?
People may be sensing an economic shift on the global front that could easily make its way to U.S. shores next year. Even if America avoids a full-blown recession, new positions or new opportunities for advancement could begin drying up or, at the least, slowing down from the past few years.
Given the number of mentoring requests that I began receiving earlier in the year from (primarily) women who specifically asked about risktaking, I decided to add a question to my exploratory mentoring checklist asking them “Why this topic and why now?”
My instincts were correct—at least regarding the changing economic conditions—but I was a bit surprised that these women were now being coaxed by their managers to step up and join high-impact teams or even consider leading one.
One woman shared with me during our exploratory call that her manager had asked that she step out of her comfort zone and consider leading a small team by:
This challenge became the focus of our three months together. I was delighted to later find out that her manager had given her the green light to move forward. Some months later, I heard back from my former mentee that she had been tapped to lead this small, but gutsy team in addressing an internal need. Adding to this initial success, her manager had approved an internal coach to support her efforts!
The Evolving Mentoring Relationship
I’m pleased to say that my former mentees and I have remained in touch over the years (even decades!), sometimes re-mentoring them when their situations changed, but mostly evolving the relationship over time to a more egalitarian one—from mentor-mentee to professional colleague.