What a mentor of emerging female leaders would like you to know?
I strongly believe in encouraging diversity in business and promoting women to leadership roles.
When I won a Telstra Business Women’s Award in 2014, I met so many amazing women. It was just like tapping into a huge reservoir of advice and support that’s still just as pertinent four years later.
As the owner of a successful business, I’m lucky to be able to do positive work in empowering women and supporting them to be included in all areas of leadership.
It’s for this reason that I am a keen mentor of emerging female leaders. Being a mentor feels like a very constructive way to give back and provide these types of opportunities for women within Australia.
Recently, I joined Mentor Walks, a mentoring program allowing senior business women to support up-and-coming female leaders by simply going on a walk together.
Interestingly, about two thirds of business women believe that they could best develop their skills by learning informally in their network of peers and mentors, and participating in leadership programs and workshops.
Finding a mentor is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Here are some tips from a mentor to future mentees:
Find a mentor and seize the opportunity
It’s important to find the right fit when choosing a mentor. Most mentors won’t want to commit to regular meetings without getting to know you first, so I wouldn’t approach someone out of the blue.
I’d advise you to have specific questions or talking points in mind when approaching a prospective mentor to firstly establish the relationship. Support and advice will come more readily when both parties are getting value from the conversation.
Mentorship can come in many forms: it might be a regular and formalised relationship, but it can just as easily be a once-off coffee meeting, or a stroll around the Botanical Gardens, or even a video call.
I’ve found it inspiring when I’ve had a conversation with a mentee who has been able to use my advice to move forward. I had a message on LinkedIn recently from someone I walked with on a Mentor Walk. She told me that since our discussion, she had been inspired to set some career objectives for herself and move out of her comfort zone into a new job. This is the stuff that keeps me going as a mentor.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
It can be lonely for a woman in business, particularly for founders – it’s often really tough. Women tend to be conditioned to avoid self-promotion, but if you want to be successful, you must be brave enough to step out of the shadows.
The best advice that I’ve been given is that anything worth doing is going to be scary. So, feel the fear and do it anyway!
You should view mentorship as an experiment. Some advice will work and some won’t but both outcomes will teach you something new.
Fear is a natural by-product of innovation – and innovation is absolutely essential for business success.
Female business leaders need a lot of chutzpah and patience to work through challenges that present themselves. Resilience and tenacity are key! You just can’t get disheartened when things seem impossible and people keep telling you ‘no.’
This is where initiatives such as Mentor Walks are so important in helping these leaders bounce back and achieve their career aspirations.
Everything is possible – you just have to decide whether you stay down, or get back up.
Kate Morris – Biography
Kate Morris is the Founder and CEO of Adorebeauty.com.au, Australia’s first online beauty store. She launched the business from her garage in 1999 at the age of 21, while still an undergraduate student. Since then, Adore Beauty has since grown to more than 160 brands, 12,000 products, and hundreds of thousands of customers. Kate was awarded the 2014 Telstra Victorian Business Women’s Innovation Award, and was inducted into the Australian Businesswomen’s Network Hall of Fame in 2015.
 Claire Heaney, “Sisterhood can do more,” Herald Sun, April 19, 2018, 37.