One of the enduring lessons I’ve learned over my career is the valueof having mentors. In my experience, the advice, guidance, andencouragement of a wise and trusted mentor has been invaluable. Mentoring is an ideal way to reach across all generations and share knowledge and experiences that are different for all of us.

I was fortunate to find a wonderful mentor early in my career.

Aftergraduating from college, I started as a secretary at an insurancecompany where I met my first mentor who was my boss. Working with himwas a major turning point in my life – he changed my job into a career.He was the first person outside of my family who believed in me, andthanks to his support and guidance, I became the first woman salesrepresentative for that organization.

He took me under his wing andgave me the confidence to step outside of my comfort zone and see thepossibilities before me. He taught me about perseverance, integrity andto have the courage to take risks. Without his guidance at a pivotalpoint in my career, I would not have had the confidence stay the courseand eventually become a leader at Deloitte.

Mentoring is thepairing of two individuals in a relationship where the mentor hasexperience and knowledge that the protégé wants to develop. Mentoringreally is a two-way street; the best mentor is also a good protégébecause both people gain and learn from the relationship.

Mentoringhas been a part of Deloitte’s culture and development programs for along time, and over the years we have learned a great deal about how tohelp our people get the most of out these relationships. So here’s myshort list of lessons learned:

1.    Create your own board of advisors.  
Throughoutour career, we need different types of mentoring and advice. AtDeloitte we recognize four major areas where a mentoring relationshipis valuable: skills and capabilities, external eminence, career/lifefit, and professional development. A mentor who has a great deal tooffer in one area may not be strong in another. Depending on your ownneeds, it may be desirable to have more than one mentor who can provideguidance and coaching. Building a “board of advisors” gives you accessto a group of mentors who can help you work on a variety of developmentgoals and offer diverse perspectives.

2.    Be prepared to learn from the younger generation.
Instudying cross-generational differences at Deloitte, we stumbled on ahidden truth: the younger professionals have a great deal to teachtheir elders. We discovered that Gen Y professionals—as “technologynatives” who view technology as an extension of themselves—have manyskills they can teach their technology-challenged colleagues of theBaby Boomer generation. In fact, at one point members of our DeloitteBoard of Directors were receiving mentoring from a team of our youngergenerations on becoming more tech-savvy. Gen Yers also have aninstinctive understanding of how to use technology to work moreflexibly. The notion of working any time, anywhere is very familiar tothem and can be shared with anyone who is experiencing career/life fitissues.

3.    Embrace the “power of one
I personallybelieve in the concept of the “Power of One,” the idea that each of uscan make a difference, one person at a time. It goes beyond the normalreach of mentoring to actually owning another individual’s success andcareer. Ownership is stronger than mentorship and I ask you to identifyone woman whose success you will own. Have that one conversation withher which will create a career-defining moment that will stay with herfor the rest of her career. Imagine the impact if each of us ownedanother woman’s success, taking mentorship to the next level. When youmake that personal commitment, you will see how the power of one canmultiply and how your efforts can yield extraordinary results.

BarbaraAdachi is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP based in SanFrancisco, leader for the Human Capital Consulting Practice in the WestRegion, and the national managing principal of Deloitte’s Initiativefor the Retention and Advancement of Women.

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