by Tumi Frazier, founder of Tumi Frazier International
Mentorship is an effective tool used to transfer business knowledge, perpetuate wisdom and expertise across generations. Mentoring relationships between mentors who are generally more experienced and knowledgeable business owners or experts in their specific fields and mentees who are less experienced or knowledgeable, have existed throughout history. However, peers have always been and are still the most underutilized source of mentoring support.
While it is important to identify highly successful individuals whom you like, respect, and trust to mentor you, remember that someone at the top of their field may not necessarily be ideal for what you need. So, do not pursue someone just because they are successful and famous; rather, identify different mentors at different levels whom you can relate to and who share your goals and understand your priorities.
It’s important to find a mentor you can see yourself becoming. In fact, I’ve discovered that the best business mentors are those who have been or are still entrepreneurs themselves because they can relate better to our challenges as entrepreneurs. Someone who can never really understand what you are going through as an entrepreneur until he/she walks a mile in your shoes. So, the best mentors will have actually walked or are walking the path you are on.
So, why do I incorporate peer-to-peer mentorship as a learning modality in my mentorship programs? Your fellow entrepreneurs can relate to the challenges you face. These are the people you speak to when you feel overwhelmed, or when you are not sure how to proceed on an idea, or maybe you need help deciding on whether or not to sell a product for a certain price, choosing the right project, finding the right accountant and so on.
Peer-to-peer mentorship provides perspective and encourages collaboration amongst other things. I’ve realized that even if peers’ specific niches or industries differ, the issues in management, technology and human resources often overlap. When someone presents a problem in our sessions, for the most part someone in the team has a solution or has dealt with a similar challenge. So, when you step back from your day-to-day running of the business or from a challenge and get an opportunity to discuss it with others, you gain a fresh perspective. Essentially, when you view a problem through your peers’ lenses, the solution often comes into focus.
Peer-to peer mentorship also provides you with an informal accountability partner which over time leads to better business outcomes. It’s like having a series of partners keeping you in check and striving toward your next. They help you increase your level of commitment, motivation, help you through the tough times and are excited for you when you clinch that big deal.
An accountability partner is a business peer who helps you grow your company by offering guidance and by holding you to your commitments. While it may be similar to the usual mentor relationship, in this case both entrepreneurs work on bettering their businesses with the feedback and support they offer each other. So, do not write off entrepreneurs who are at your level as mentors because they can help you achieve more than you can ever imagine.
Tumi Frazier is a South African entrepreneur, professional speaker, author, TV personality, consultant, and founder of Tumi Frazier International, Tumi Leadership Academy, and Tumi Foundation. Tumi is an internationally acclaimed Leadership and Change Management expert who has worked with high profile clients and organizations across Africa, United States and Europe. Tumi has authored 4 books: Courageous Stories of Inspiration; In the Midst of the Storm; Stepping Stones to Success; and Your Moment. Follow Tumi Twitter | LinkedIn
Read more articles by Tumi....