5 Ways to be a Powerful Mentor
In the world of popular culture, the female boss is usually seen with harsh qualities that enforces the ‘mean’ boss stereotype. The Bold Type changes things up portraying the female boss, Jacqueline, as an empowering, strong, friendly, and inspiring figure who guides 20-something Jane and the other young women magazine staffers in their careers and life. Jacqueline is the type of person that every young person deserves to have at work, at school, or in their everyday life.
After being a fan of The Bold Type for the last three seasons, it made me think of what Jacqueline teaches us about mentorship whether you’re a supervisor, parent, friend, family member, or mentor yourself. If you want to be a truly effective mentor to a younger person in your life, here are 5 tips from watching The Bold Type’s Jacqueline Carlyle:
Keep an Open Door: Some questions like, “Am I a burden?” "Are they too busy to listen to me?” “What if what I say comes back against me?” run through young people’s minds before they reach out to their mentor, especially if their mentor works in the same company. Make sure that you have an open-door policy and that your young person understands that no matter what they can come to you and you will always be there.
Jacqueline’s door, literally and figuratively, has always been open. One of the main characters, Jane, often runs into Jacqueline’s office looking for guidance. No matter how busy Jacqueline is, she welcomes her younger staffers in, even to her home.
Be an Active Listener: It’s easy for someone to sit and “listen” to you talk for 20 minutes, but it’s another thing for a mentor to actively listen. Young people can tell the difference and if their mentor is not actively listening, chances are the young person will leave feeling like they gained nothing out of that encounter and not feel very good about themselves or the situation they came to speak to you about. Active listening has seven critical steps according to Power to Decide: be attentive, ask open-ended questions, ask probing question, request clarification, paraphrase, be attuned to an reflect feelings, and summarize. Try it out!
Jacqueline always asks her up-and-coming magazine colleagues questions to allow them to reflect on what they’re feeling, she lends a helping hand when she can, and always lets them know that she is there for them.
Walk the walk: It’s easy to give advice and guidance to the young person in your life, but not so easy to take that advice yourself. It’s important that you set an example for the young person in your life, so they can not only hear what you’re telling them, but also see how you live out what you’re preaching. I know if I get advice but then see that person do the opposite themselves leads me to doubt my own abilities to succeed by using their advice, and even to doubt how much they believe in their own advice.
Jacqueline does what is right no matter what. She is not afraid to stand-up for what she believes in, even if that means it will cost her professionally. In everything Jacqueline does in the show, she leads by example.
Be Honest: Sugar coating advice is never a good idea. It is best to be honest and truthful with the young person in your life, even though they may not want to hear it. I promise that in the aftermath they will be grateful that you were honest with them instead just telling them what they want to hear. The best advice I have gotten, whether that was about my career, academic, or personal life was always a hard pill to swallow, but afterwards I appreciated hearing those words so much. I stand by tough love.
Jacqueline is not afraid to tell the girls if they’ve messed up because she knows that each mistake and failure is a lessoned learned. Jacqueline makes sure that the girls learn from their mistakes and makes them stronger from it. She doesn’t shame them for making mistakes. She helps them see how to solve problems instead.
Be Empowering: Lifting the young person in your life up to be the best possible version of themselves can be hard. Many things in life can chip away at a young person’s self-confidence. When they face a hurdle, along with following the four ways above, empowering them is the cherry on top. Lifting other women up is so inspiring and probably the most powerful thing you can do for a young person in your life.
Everyone can learn a thing or two from Jacqueline, but you don’t have to be a supervisor to be a mentor! Anyone can be a mentor to a younger person in their life, even millennials! I would like to say thank you to The Bold Type for portraying a character that embodies what it truly means to be a powerful mentor.