How to Find an Executive Mentor and Commit to your Long-term Success in Aviation

Author By Jim Lara

Are you ready to become a Transformational Leader?

That is, someone who guides and directs others to success? If so, great!

One of the best ways to ensure your long-term success is to invest your time and energy in an Executive Mentor who’s just as committed as you are to your long-term success.

After all, many of the world’s renowned business leaders and athletes don’t rely on their natural abilities. They listen to the advice of a trusted few to ensure their progression.

Finding the right Executive Mentor is not a one-size-fits-all process.

Yet one thing’s for certain … putting forth the effort in finding the right person will pay off in spades.

Lifelong Benefits of Working with an Executive Mentor

You’ll be able to do amazing things and get off to a great start if your Executive Mentor can help you:

  • Develop great clarity and determine precisely who you are and what you want to achieve.
  • Leverage existing strengths and unlock your potential.
  • Sharpen your strategic and critical thinking skills.
  • Gain valuable business acumen and hone interpersonal communication skills.
  • Improve your leadership styles and competencies by providing regular, ongoing feedback.
  • Stretch your performance beyond what you think you can achieve.
  • Help you create actionable goals to ensure your advancement.

Seven Tips to Finding the Right Executive Mentor

So how do you find someone who’s right for you—someone who’s “been there and done that”? Here are seven tips to finding the right Executive Mentor:

1. Know What You’re Looking for

A mentor is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher, an influential senior sponsor or supporter. He or she can be either internal or external to your organization, but their focus should be broad, deep and sustained. Meaning, you want to find someone who knows what he or she is talking about and has achieved long-lasting results.

Becoming a Transformational Leader is not a quick or easy undertaking. It’s a life-long commitment so look for someone who’s got the professional performance and lifestyle you desire.

2. Get Help on the Principles and the Techniques

A great mentor is not somebody who can “do it” better than you. It’s someone who can help you elevate your performance to levels you never thought possible. So the end result is that your mentor is someone that mainly teaches principle, and then works with you on your technique.

The concept of teaching principle (strategy) vs. technique (tactics) is important. Great mentors focus on the unique principles and techniques applicable to each individual.

3. Ask Yourself: Are You Really Committed?

Before you connect with a new mentor, ask yourself: “Am I truly ready and prepared to excel?”

For some people, the answer is (very truthfully) no.

However, for the professionals who do really want to excel, it will take preparation, hard work, energy, time, commitment and resources. And one of those resources is generally a trusted advisor or mentor.

You’ll know you’re committed and ready for a mentorship when you have that burning desire in your belly—and you can see, taste and feel attainment of your lofty goal.

You think to yourself: this is something that I really want to do. I am passionate about this and I’m not going to let anything get in my way. And you’ll become dedicated to living with a different mindset and performing at an elevated level.

The higher up the ladder you go, the less people there are to challenge you. That’s the role of your mentor—to stretch you, to make you sore, to get you thinking in new ways and getting outside of your comfort zone.

You can count on discomfort. It will take a while to get your bearings until you get into new habit patterns and new ways of thinking.

Some people believe that when they hire a mentor or coach that it’s the other person’s responsibility to transform them into a high performing, fast track, leading executive. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s your responsibility. In the end, it’s you that has to perform. A mentor can show you how to get there and get on the fast track, but you’re the one doing the work.

4. Letting Go of the Distractions and Getting Real

A lot of people get distracted. Life happens. But if you don’t have a clear path to follow, you’ll forever be on a treadmill where everything seems important.

Soccer games, presentations to senior management, spreadsheets and dinner parties will soak up your energy and take you off balance. An effective mentorship will help you get clarity on priorities.

Then once you have a path, triaging your commitments and focusing on what’s really important becomes a lot easier. You’ll have a lot more direction.

Again, you’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Am I really worth the investment in time and sacrifice—as well as the money?
  • Will I be able to give up certain people, places and things that might be considered distractions or barriers to my success?
  • Do I know what it’s going to take, realistically, to achieve my desired outcome?

5. Find a Mentor that Fits your Geography, Industry and Personality

While there are formal ways to prospect for an Executive Mentor, try networking with people you know and that know you well.

Reach out to your circle of trusted advisors to see which people they’d recommend you talk to. Ask them to suggest people that might be good at giving you honest, strategic feedback.

Perhaps there’s someone in your profession who has the job you’d like to grow into? Or maybe it’s someone who’s achieved success in another field, but he or she is admirable and a gifted teacher?

  • Who has similar experiences?
  • Are they in your industry?
  • Can they meet in person or via phone or Skype?
  • Do they have a talent you’d like to hone?
  • Can they be brutally honest with you?
  • Do they have the time and commitment to devote to your future?
  • How have they succeeded?
  • Can they demonstrate past results?
  • Are they willing to work with you for free or on a project or paid hourly basis?

6. Consider Working with More than One Mentor

You might have several different mentors for different aspects of your life—from business to personal relationships to sports, etc.

For example, Gray Stone Advisors’ principal, Jim Lara, has a personal Board of Directors of nine people whom he turns to as a sounding board on various topics. “They are brutally honest with me,” Jim says.”It’s often painful to hear, but they are right 95% of the time.”

According to Jim, your mentor shouldn’t be a ‘yes’ person or somebody who’s going to tell you what you want to hear.You want them to tell you what they think,” he says. “It’s not only going to help you with direction, but also perspective and context.”

He also suggests that mentees should be prepared to return the favor. “It shouldn’t just be a one-way street,” he adds.

7. Know How to Expend your Finite Focal Energy

Each one of us has only so much focal energy. That is, a limited capacity to focus. And this focal energy is absolutely finite.

If you try to focus on a lot of things, in all likelihood little will be accomplished. If, however, you focus on ‘the vital few,’ much will be accomplished in an amazingly short period of time.

The great thing is that we all have 24 hours in every day and everyone gets to choose where to spend it. Some choose to use their time and abilities in a very focused, laser-like manner. While others use it in a very diffused manner.

But it is a choice. Yours.

So how will you choose where to expend your energy? Will it be on productive or wasteful pursuits?

If you’re ready to finally commit to your long-term success, the time is now.

Pick up the phone and ask for some referrals. Put it into your personal and professional goals and take action.

There’s no one stopping you from achieving what you want. Go get it!