By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
When Alisa Cohn talks about mentorship and sponsorship programs she brings a wealth of experience to any discussion. She was recently appointed to the Leadership Advisory Group to the President of the World Bank , has co-authored and authored several articles in the Boston Business Journal and Forbes.com and leveraged her twenty years of experience as an executive coach in various speaking and workshop engagements.
She says the reasoning behind formal mentorship programs is understandable.
“Firms try to put them in for all good intent. They know they want to build their young , junior people and mid-level managers with all good intention. The problem is that the partners and other senior people that are called in through a formal program don’t always know what they’re supposed to be doing or have an affinity to mentorship.”
Adding to those issues are those on the other side of the relationship who don’t know how to be mentored, what they should expect or feel entitled like the firm is doing something special for them. Cohn says the right mindset to get the most from a mentorship is to understand it is a
fundamental part of building a career and to proactively reach out to those who can help. She stresses persistence as a key to success.
“You need to do that on a regular basis with multiple people,” she says. “It’s also important to think about what would be useful to get from somebody that’s older, wiser and has already been down a career path.”
It’s just as important to understand what you can offer to the person you want as a mentor. Cohn says it’s this give and take mindset that helps anyone get the most from mentorship. Being proactive is another fundamental building block.
“You’re going to find the right people when you’re being more homegrown about it and doing it yourself rather than letting the firm do it for you. That way, you’ll find people you have an affinity with, as well as a good rapport and some chemistry.”
Diversity is another driver that works to find influences from those who don’t necessarily see your work on a daily basis and Cohn also places an emphasis on the personal touch and how the all-important quality of a relationship plays another central role.
“It’s always better with relationships when you can meet people face to face. That’s just a normal part of being human,” says the executive coach to C-level executives, Senior Vice Presidents and Vice Presidents, adding that building relationships by other means like Skype is a skill you also need to develop to be fully rounded.
“ Why would you shut yourself off from opportunities just because they’re not in your home office?” she says.