Choose your own board of mentors

Choose your own board of mentors

Small firms will get a training boost when they tap into the wisdom of corporate coaches in the SkillsFuture Mentors Programme.

This is Spring Singapore’s $45 million mentorship scheme to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) train their workforce, strengthen their learning and development capabilities and build their branding as employers of choice.

Training is key, as talent with inquiring minds would want to broaden their horizons, and they lend to a company’s success – if they stay. Spring aims to build a pool of 400 mentors to support 2,000 SMEs over the next three years.

You can build your own personal “board” of mentors too. Here’s how.


Start by understanding your mentoring needs. Think about what you would like to accomplish in your career in the next five years. What skills do you require and what kind of assistance would make the process smoother?

Take the time to define why you need a mentor, then make a list of those who can potentially fill your mentoring needs. Think of leaders and influencers in your industry.

In addition, consider the speakers and members of your industry association. LinkedIn is an option where you could search for these professionals.


Learn as much as you can about the people on your list of potential mentors. Who has values that closely align with yours? Get to know them by developing an online relationship with them.

After you have learnt more about them, ask the top person on the list to become your mentor. Explain why you chose him and the time commitment involved. If, for some reason, the person says no, do not be discouraged – move on to the second choice.

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Based on your requirements, make a long list of people who are suitable to sit on your personal board.

Organise your list into people who know you very well, for instance, friends and family members; people in your professional circle whom you admire and respect and other professionals, such as your dentist, doctor, accountant and lawyer.

Let the list simmer on your mental stove for a day or two. Revisit it to make any changes.

Choose five or six people to be on your personal board of directors, and only those who do not have a stake in your success. Also, have an alternate list – in case your top choices do not come on board.

They should have different skills and qualities that can help you develop and improve.


When you approach people to be on your personal board, let them know what you are trying to accomplish and why you think they would be a good fit.

Based on what you have discovered about their needs, let them know what you are willing to offer in return. Most people are willing to help when they know exactly what is required of them, and when it is easy for them to do so.

They are likely to be pleasantly surprised by your offer of assistance, as you will be among the few who understand that relationships are about giving and taking.


Think about what you can offer in return to the people on your list, as you will be asking them for a huge favour. Everyone needs help in some areas, but it may take effort on your part to discover what those needs are.

Figuring out how you can contribute to them is worth the effort and increases the likelihood of them saying yes to being on your board of directors.

In the absence of corporate mentorship programmes, many people do not understand the process of securing a mentor or even think that they can spearhead the process of finding a mentor.

Five mentors everyone needs

Every professional who expects to successfully navigate corporate structures needs someone in his corner to bounce ideas off, get a fresh perspective on an issue or provide guidance on his career path - perhaps, even open some doors.

That person is the mentor.

These days, one mentor is simply not enough. No single person possesses all the skills necessary for his protege to succeed.

Like organisations with a board of directors who have various skills, professionals require members of their personal board to possess diverse skills based on their unique requirements.

These are the different types of mentors you need.

CONNECTOR: A respected member of the community who has authority, the ability to influence others and access to an extensive network of contacts.

INDUSTRY EXPERT: Someone who has accomplished what you are trying to do.

SPONSOR: A senior-level person in your organisation who is willing to open doors for you.

However, you need to have made some mark so he is aware of you.

LISTENER: Someone who has excellent listening skills, is empathetic and will allow you to rant when necessary to clear your mind so you can focus on what is truly important.

THE-NO-NONSENSE PERSON: Someone whom you can count on to tell you exactly like it is and holds you accountable to achieving your goals.

This article was contributed by career consultancy Right Management and recruitment company ManpowerGroup Singapore

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