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Dr. Leigh Anne Taylor Knight, Executive Director and COO of The DeBruce Foundation
As January is National Mentoring Month, I’ve been thinking about the mentors who have graciously helped me along my path, as well as the lessons learned with and from mentees I’ve accompanied in their journeys. “Right makes might” is a valuable attitude from one of my mentors, Dr. Tom Cummings. Mentoring IS doing the right thing!
It is our responsibility to use our gifts, talents, connections, and time for the benefit of others. By doing so, we also experience privileges brought by few other acts in life. As anyone who works with young people knows, youth input and creativity adds tremendous value to conversations, decisions, and initiatives.
As a mentor, one of the best gifts I believe we can offer our mentees is to help them develop the Agility Advantage in their career. Understanding your Agilities, or how strengths and interests align with work, is the first step in developing the Agility Advantage, which equips individuals to overcome challenges, navigate changes, and be an informed decision-maker.
Here are three ways you can begin to mentor with Agilities:
- Get to Know Each Other
You may have a lot in common with your mentee…or not. Either way, establishing a relationship and giving yourselves the tools for meaningful conversation will set you up for long term success. I suggest both the mentor and mentee take the Agile Work Profiler, then talk about your results. What are their top “Agilities”? What are yours? Within 10 minutes, you already have common language to equip you both for a conversation about their strengths and interests as they relate to work.
- Get Curious
Reflect on the use of your top Agilities in your career and share those with your mentee. What Agilities helped you get to where you are now? What Agilities did you intentionally develop along the way?
Affirm the value of your mentee’s strengths and interests; together, you can investigate job opportunities that utilize their top Agilities and you can share where you’ve seen those Agilities used in the workforce. Or, do they vision a career path that utilizes different Agilities? Explore together what Agilities they might want to develop or in what opportunities they might want to dive deeper.
- Get Creative
Then, as a mentor, I love thinking innovatively (my top Agility!) to refer a mentee to resources, connect them for interviews, or help them learn about another industry of interest. For example, one of my mentees, Taylor, is currently in nursing. Her #1 Agility is Serving and Caring, and her #2 is Innovating.
In what roles can a nurse especially use Innovating? The Emergency Room might be a great fit for her, where she needs to quickly find solutions and triage care. Or, she might enjoy using her Agilities as a nutritionist, innovating to help patients meet their specific health goals. With this knowledge of her Agilities, I can be more strategic about connecting Taylor with new resources and contacts to help her expand her career pathways.
By getting to know your Agilities and each other, getting curious, and getting creative, you can start to build a meaningful and constructive mentoring relationship. Further, your mentee will be well on their way to developing the Agility Advantage — something they can take with them for the rest of their career.