Can You Have a Male Mentor?

Business mentoring

We cannot say enough about the power of women helping women in the workplace.  But, with fifty percent of the workforce being male, is it possible for women to find male mentors that will help them succeed?  The answer is decidedly YES!

According to a recent article from Huffington Post, “mentors can come in any gender — and male mentors are especially crucial in areas where women commonly hit the glass ceiling and have yet to reach the highest levels of leadership.”  Strong female leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg, Ursula Burns and Tina Fey all credit at least one man among their list of professional mentors and as more and more companies begin to create mentorship programs, women will be given even more opportunities to build strong relationships with their male colleagues.

Is creating a mentor relationship with men different than creating one with women?  Not really, but there are some things you should consider.  Here are some great tips from our friends at Levo League:

Build Relationships with People You Respect–Not Just People Who Are Successful
You want to build a mentor relationship with “someone in a position to provide concrete assistance” and that person may not be the one sitting at the very top of the ladder.  Seek out mentorships with those you respect and “click with”, even if they are a “few steps down from the top.”

Bond over Shared Values
This is especially important for male/female mentorships.  Instead of focusing on your gender differences, look for those things you have in common, especially the way you approach work situations.  “If you hold common values, you have the potential for a much more meaningful mentor-mentee relationship—and incentive to help one another succeed.”

Encourage Honest Feedback
One of the top reasons men are wary about participating in a male/female mentorship is they are afraid women (especially younger women) will not take criticism well.  “You can preempt this by taking the first step. Ask your mentor how you can improve your performance, take any critiques humbly, and look for opportunities to demonstrate what you’ve learned.”

Ask for Help
Women can be less upfront about they want in the workplace, assuming their performance alone will be recognized and allow them to succeed.  “You don’t have to wait for your mentor to come to you with an opportunity; be clear about what your goals are and ask for the help you need to achieve them, especially when you have something concrete in mind.”

Do Not Abuse Your Femininity
“A professional mentorship has no romantic undertones, and good men will be insulted at the suggestion that they have ulterior motives for helping you.”  You will find success only when the relationship continues to be a purely professional collaboration.

Click here to read the entire Levo League article.

You Tell Us:  Do you have a male mentor/mentee relationship?