How to Succeed as a Business MentorFew leaders make it to the top without the help of a business mentor.

There's such great value in mentorship Dana Theus, president and CEO of InPower Consulting, has found the topic of mentoring to be an incredibly popular topic for her radio show.

It may be because the mentoring experience is nuanced. Some up-and-coming leaders don’t know they’re involved in a mentoring experience until many years pass.

They may not know until they've become mentors themselves.

And, says Theus, “too many high-potentials—those who know the importance of mentorship” set about finding a mentor without a real grasp of “the organic, artistic aspect of mentorship.”

For those who want to know more, she offers some tips on how to succeed as a business mentor in an article in Smart Blog on Leadership.

You Don’t Get a Business Mentor, You Build a Mentoring Relationship

The kind of mentoring that helps an individual in their career grows out of a dynamic relationship between two people. These people should have "complementary experiences," Theus says.

In many of these relationships, in fact, the words “mentor” and “mentee” rarely come up.

Instead, she advises emerging leaders to find a business mentor by seeking out senior leaders “in a business context where you and they can develop natural chemistry.”

Good Mentoring is a Give-and-Take Experience

It’s a popular misconception that being a business mentor means a one-way sharing of experience. But in the best relationships, mentors gain insights from their mentees “to sharpen their own leadership and management skills.”

For example, a mentee can bring intelligence gained from being at the ground level. They can offer insight in regards to business issues, corporate culture, or the marketplace.

Mentees can also provide a view into the newer generation of workers and their attitudes, biases, and strengths.

For instance, how much do today's leaders know about Generation Z, the second wave of Millennials? These young people were born in the mid-90s to early '00s.

According to a recent article in Fortune, they are set to disrupt the workplace in big ways. Being a business mentor to one of these young professionals can help give a leader a picture of what's to come.

Ultimately, both partners in the mentoring discussion enjoy opportunities for self-reflection and growth. “Part of developing the relationship is learning how you can help each other,” Theus notes.

Mentoring Works Best When Both Parties Close the Loop

Typically, a mentee solicits advice in an area where he or she needs the most support. What often happens is afterward, they fail to “close the loop and tell the mentor what happened when they used that advice.”

Without this information, a business mentor has no way to know if the advice they provided was valuable. Knowing could help them tailor advice for future situations.

Theus says,“Mentors can help the mentees close the loop by remembering the advice they gave and asking how it went when they used it.”

Mentors and Sponsors Aren't the Same Thing

According to Theus, a sponsor is “someone who will put their reputation on the line to help you advance.” This is not what a business mentor is for.

It’s important for an emerging leader to understand the distinction. A leader needs to “be clear what value you’re most likely to receive from the relationship.”

Many of the senior leaders Theus has interviewed love to talk about their mentors. If you were fortunate enough to have a great business mentor in your earlier days, consider the value you might offer to someone in the next generation.

Did you have a great mentor in your career?

Image via Steve Wilson