MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: Why is it important to have a mentor? is written by Dawn Zier, president and CEO of Nutrisystem.
It’s important to have multiple mentors throughout your career–not just at the outset. No matter how high we rise, we never outgrow our need for mentoring. Leadership is not necessarily innate. It’s largely based on learned and modeled behaviors. The truth is, you never advance beyond benefitting from mentors. You just have to be humble enough to continuously seek additional wisdom throughout your career. And you need to be willing to listen, even when what’s being said may be hard to hear. After all, change is constant, and you’ll likely find yourself in an ever-increasing range of situations warranting fresh perspectives and solid sounding boards. As CEO, I find it incredibly helpful to have a group of advisors to discuss things with in concert.
As a person who believes a mentor-mentee relationship must be found and not assigned, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have so many people willing to help me along the way. And I still maintain relationships with three of my longtime mentors. So call it what you want–coach, mentor, or advisor–it doesn’t really matter. What matters most is that you have people like these in your camp with a reasonable degree of consistency. When you do this, returning the favor and paying it forward is a natural extension. And you’ll soon learn–as I have–that you often get more than you give when helping others advance their careers.
So, if you find yourself wondering “Do I really need a mentor at this stage in my career?” or “Should I really carve out time to be a mentor?” The answer is “yes” to both.
Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: Why is it important to have a mentor?
4 things your boss won’t tell you (but a mentor will) by Penny Herscher CEO of FirstRain.
What qualities make a good (and bad) mentor? by Karen Tegan Padir, president of application development at Progress Software.
Why mentoring is unlike any other professional relationshipby Jenni Luke, CEO of Step Up.
Why you don’t need a mentor to be successful by Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy at Ernst & Young.
What qualities should you look for in a mentor? by Gay Gaddis, CEO and founder of T3.
4 things to consider before choosing a mentor by Camille Preston, founder of AIM Leadership.
The most important quality a mentor should have by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.
Why women are more likely to be mentors by Alyse Nelson, CEO and co-founder of Vital Voices Global Partnership.
3 reasons every employee needs a mentor by Sally Blount, Dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Why this AOL executive chooses her mentors — wisely by Allie Kline, CMO of AOL, Inc.