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Learn What It Takes to Be a Great Mentor

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the benefits of mentoring.
  • Describe who at Salesforce can be a mentor.
  • Address impostor syndrome.

Why Be a Mentor?

Great joy can arise from helping someone take a step along their career or life journey. This satisfaction alone can be the reason for mentoring, yet sometimes there are additional reasons for doing so. These might include practicing empathy, listening, communication, or coaching skills, all of which are a requirement for effective managers and leaders. Building one’s own network and meeting more people in the community are also solid reasons for mentoring.  

Who Can Mentor?

Mentors can be anyone in the Trailblazer Community with at least 1 year of Salesforce experience. That’s it! While a background in mentoring, teaching, or career coaching would be valuable, they’re not required for mentors. This makes mentoring a perfect step in someone’s journey up the career ladder, as they practice the skills of being an effective manager.

In Japanese society, there is a long-standing concept known as senpai-kohai, which can serve as a useful reference model for the value that mentors can bring to a mentoring relationship. Senpai-kohai is practiced within companies, schools, and other organizations. A senpai is more senior, such as someone who’s been with the organization longer or who has a higher rank. A kohai is someone who is more junior. Depending on the organization, there are expectations placed on both senpai and kohai, with each looking out for the needs and interests of the other. The key takeaway from this model is that someone with even just 1 more year of experience is seen as providing great value to the other. 

We see the same value in asking those with more than 1 year of Salesforce experience to share ideas and experiences with those just starting out in the community.

 Two people reflecting the senpai-kohai relationship in how they interact.

Benefits of Mentoring

There are numerous benefits of mentoring. Some see it as an opportunity to pay it forward, while others consider it a chance for their own professional development. Some of the key benefits of mentoring include:

  • Coaching: Mentors seek the balance between telling people what to do and helping them find their own path.
  • Continuous learning: Mentors are exposed to new ideas and may reflect on past experiences from a new perspective.
  • Soft skill development: Mentors must listen, reflect, and respond with empathy.
  • Network expansion: Mentors get to know more people in a personal and profound way.
  • Giving back: Mentors get a sense of pride in their community and make a difference in someone’s life.

Regardless of the reasons for mentoring, most find it very rewarding to see someone else benefit from their input in a meaningful way.

Addressing Imposter Syndrome

A commonly cited concern as people begin their mentorship journey is feeling like they are not qualified to provide guidance to others. They sense that mentees may instead be better served by those with far more experience, such as a longtime CEO. This feeling is known as imposter syndrome. According to the TED-Ed video What is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it?, imposter syndrome is described as “feelings of fraudulence” and “doubts that we haven’t really earned our accomplishments.”

Mentors can address this feeling by reflecting on what skills and experiences they do bring to the mentoring relationship. They can also accept the reality that everyone is on their own journey toward whatever goals and passions they’re pursuing. Mentors can provide significant value by listening, sharing experiences, removing one obstacle, or contributing an idea toward a meaningful step in the mentee’s path.

Mentors should also recognize when their mentee also suffers from impostor syndrome. Sharing your own struggles with it can help the mentee understand that they aren’t alone, and that despite having impostor syndrome, people can still be successful. Transparency and leading by example are key to helping your mentee move through their feelings of doubt. 

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of mentoring and who from the Trailblazer Community can mentor, do you think you'd be a good fit for a mentor role? Keep reading to learn how to prepare for this journey.


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