Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

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Question: I have an incredible mentor. She has guided me through some tough career decisions, boosted my skills and confidence, and recommended me for a job that would mean a big step. How can I thank her? — Client services manager.

Answer: There are so many ways to thank a great mentor, from a handwritten thank you card to writing a LinkedIn testimonial or taking her to lunch.

But here’s something she might appreciate even more.

A number of years ago I sat in on an executive panel at a women’s leadership conference at a large pharmaceutical company based in Chicago. When the conversation turned to mentoring, an audience member asked the panel, “How can I thank my mentor?”

The response from the panel was unanimous. The execs agreed that the best way to thank a mentor is to ‘pay it forward’ by mentoring someone else.

Mentors don’t just derive a deep sense of satisfaction from seeing their mentees’ growth and success. Most mentors also do what they do out of a deep sense of service, born out of gratitude to someone who invested in them, shared insights, gave them encouragement, and helped them become all that they are today.

So thank your mentor, and when you do, let them know that they’ve inspired you to mentor someone else. I guarantee it will make their day, especially if you ask for their advice on how to become the best mentor you can possibly be.

Jo Miller

Jo is Founding Editor of Be Leaderly, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., and creator of the Women’s Leadership Coaching® system, a roadmap for women who want to break into leadership. She has traveled in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and workshops, and counts being the only Aussie women’s leadership coach in Iowa among her unique “koalafications.” Learn more about Jo’s services at womensleadershipcoaching.com and follow @jo_miller on Twitter.

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