One of the biggest honours I have received is being named to the WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100. I attended the gala in Toronto last November where I met distinguished women of all backgrounds from across the country, from my fellow award winners to the 10 Hall of Fame Inductees. The opportunity to surround myself and connect with amazing women was one I couldn’t miss.
Having worked with executives over the years as a leadership coach, I’ve found that one of the best ways to set yourself on the path to leadership success is by surrounding yourself with a diverse group of mentors. I like to refer to this as developing a personal organizational chart.
What is a personal org chart?
Businesses have org charts to define roles and organize employees by skill sets, making sure their bench is full of the right people to work towards a common goal. Think of yourself as the CEO of “Me Inc.” Who are the people and what are the departments that you need to meet your goals? And I don’t mean just at work. Beyond a boss and direct reports, who is part of the informal team that helps you get things done?
Your personal org chart should include:
- Personal advisors
- Mentors (lots of different kinds) and mentees
- Your boss, team, and others across your organization or outside of it
The various “departments” of your org chart should be able to provide you with:
- Emotional support
- Personal development
- Professional development
- Mentorship or coaching
- Feedback and thoughtful discussion (a sounding board)
The importance of mentors in your org chart
If you’re looking to grow the mentorship arm of your personal org chart, you’ve come to the right place. Before receiving the Top 100 honour last year, I’ve been involved with WXN in different capacities, mostly from my hometown of Calgary. Now, I am also proud to share that my company, Incito, has also become a national supporting partner of the Wisdom Mentoring™ program.
You can have more than one type of mentor in your personal org chart:
- Internal mentors – this could be a person within your organization who performs the same function as you do. You can also seek someone who performs a different function, to offer different perspectives.
- External mentors – look for those who are in the same industry as you, as well as someone who is in a different industry.
How to find a mentor (or become one yourself)
Mentor diversity is critical in your growth as a leader. I also recommend seeking mentors who are going through the same things you are going through, whether professionally, like experience dealing with a merger, for example, or personally, such as having young children while working. Being able to relate to someone with similar experiences is beneficial because you can work through challenges together, and share in the experience. It’s also nice to seek mentors who have dealt with similar challenges in the past, but are well past them, so that you can learn from how they got through the situation and know what it might be like on the other side. You do not always have to formally ask someone to be your mentor. Sometimes the dynamic occurs naturally; an informal mentor/mentee relationship can relieve some pressure around the expectations from the partnership. If you’re struggling to get started, I’ve written more about how finding a mentor doesn’t have to be awkward.
If someone approaches you to be their mentor and you don’t feel comfortable or qualified, try your best to fight these feelings of Imposter Syndrome. Becoming a mentor yourself not only enables you to share your own knowledge and wisdom with others, it also opens up your worldview as you connect with your mentees. For example, after being named to the WXN Top 100, a mentor/mentee matching organization called Elevate Aviation approached me to mentor an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. Even though I am technically her mentor, I’ve found that I have received so much more in return – I have already learned so much from her sharing her experiences.
If you are looking to become a mentor, you should reach out to potential mentees whose work you find exciting. You can find them by volunteering, networking, or even following someone’s work that you want to be part of. Go to events big and small. Reach out to your network and tell them about your interests. They might know someone looking to connect, whether or not they have expressed interest in formal mentorship. Put your name forward for any awards, programs, or networks, even at universities.
WXN is a great way to get started on building your org chart’s mentorship arm, whether you are looking for a mentor or a mentee. WXN’s mentorship programs often pair women from different geographical locations and diverse backgrounds. You can learn from others who are doing great things, and pick up skills or insights that you can bring to your own community.
I am grateful to be a Top 100 Winner because it has also helped me connect with my fellow winners: many women with whom I am able to build relationships over time. Forevermore, we have something in common, and we’ve been able to reach out to each other because of it. I’ve stayed in touch with Sandra Sutter, Victoria LaBillois, and Jessica Lui, to name a few. If you have something like this in common with someone you want to connect with, don’t be shy and reach out. The fact that I am able to say “Hey, I’m also a WXN winner. Let’s have coffee,” is just as good as any warm intro.
Learn more about WXN’s Wisdom Mentoring™ program and how you can benefit from a mentor who has faced challenges like yours, how they got to where they are now.
Jenn Lofgren, Founder, Executive Leadership Coach & Consultant for Incito Executive & Leadership Development is a 2019 BMO Entrepreneurs Top 100 Award Winner. She has been recognized a woman who owns and operates a thriving business in Canada.
2020 Top 100 Nominations are now open. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and nominate a powerful female or even yourself!
Jenn Lofgren – Founder, Executive Leadership Coach & Consultant, Incito Executive & Leadership Development
2019 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
Jenn Lofgren helps executives across Canada and worldwide unlock their leadership potential and grow into inspired, authentic leaders. She is one of only 60 recipients of the esteemed Master Certified Coach (MCC) designation in Canada and five per cent of coaches worldwide. Jenn is a champion of local enterprise, an ally to women in business, an actively involved citizen and a passionate member of the global business community.