In the last few posts I have been discussing the role of your support team to help you progress successfully through Partner Track. In today’s post, it is now time to look at your Mentor. How, if you use them properly, they can be your secret weapon. In this article, based on an extract from Poised for Partnership, I explore how to fully get value from your relationship with your mentor.

What roles does the right mentor actually do?

The right Mentor for you will become your secret weapon whilst you are on Partner Track. Of course, the right person will undertake the normal sort of roles that you can expect from any mentoring relationship, e.g.

  • Critical friend, telling the mentee the uncomfortable truth that only a true friend can
  • Sounding board, giving the mentee the chance to try out ideas and approaches in a safe environment
  • Role model, providing an example from which the mentee can learn
  • Coach, helping a mentee to acquire new skills and abilities
  • Networker, helping a mentee develop the connections they need to gain experience, get a job, promotion and so on
  • Facilitator, helping set and achieve objectives.

However, there are four key ways in which you can really leverage your relationship with your Mentor.

Help grow your profile within the partnership group, particularly in areas you’ve had little contact

In an ideal world you would have been growing your profile across the firm from the early days of your career. However, you may be a senior lateral hire or just not socialised or worked with many of the partners outside of your own service line or sector team. This is where a mentor who is external to your practice area can help you to build your profile. Just by associating with them and being seen with them, your profile will grow outside of your own department; essential for when it comes to partnership vote time.

Give you the insider knowledge on who you need to spend time with to strengthen your Personal Case

Not everyone is created equal, and this is spot on when it comes to the partners in your firm. There are always going to be some partners that are more influential than others. Your Mentor can help you prioritise who you must have on your side and how to gain their trust, respect, and advocacy.

Become one of your best advocates when the partners meet to discuss who should be made up to partner

Most of the conversations about who is going to be ready for partnership take place behind closed doors, either formally or informally between partners. The more advocates you have, the more chance that you will be the person who gets partnership. One very strong influencer who is an advocate for you may be what you need to convince other partners that you are ready for partnership.

Share how they tackled the many challenges of being on Partner Track

Being on Partner Track is the hardest career transition you will do within the professions. Your Mentor will be a great source of pragmatic advice on how they coped, and the strategies they used to overcome the hurdles that face you. Because they have been in your position but also know what is really important for their fellow partners, they are ideally placed to help you prioritise where you should be spending your time. For example, the Mentor of one of my coaching clients was able to reassure her exactly what the rest of the partnership would want to see her doing to put her forward for partnership.

In summary

Handle your relationship with your mentor in the right way and your path to partnership may just become a little easier.

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