Women ‘can’t do it alone’

First Posted: 2/9/2015

LIMA — For women, the presence of a mentor can make a big difference in business.

Though it may sometimes be hard to find a woman in the role they’re in or in a higher position in their field, many women in leadership roles now advise others to find a mentor.

“Female mentors will give you an additional dimension for how you can go forward,” said Cynthia Leis, Van Wert City Economic and Community Development Director.

But mentors of either gender are helpful.

“I don’t think you can do it alone,” said Elia Lopez, plant manager at the Proctor and Gamble facility in Lima. “I mentor a lot of people. … It’s all about finding people who you connect with, who help you and who are real to you.”

Leis recommends having mentors of both genders, so mentees can get two different perspectives.

“(You) need to see how your male counterparts will react,” she said. “I really do think it does take a balanced approach.”

Part of that balanced approach may also be having mentors who are older and younger, Leis said.

“I think both bring a different perspective on female leadership,” she said. “The younger one keeps my mind open and fresh with new ideas, and the older one also keeps you kind of stable and remembers things that worked in the past for them.”

There are many organized mentoring programs out there, but Leis said mentoring relationships don’t have to be so formal.

“Watch that person. See how others react to them,” she said, emphasizing the importance of having a similar personality between mentors and mentees.

“I really do think it’s important because that mentor’s got experience, and they’re going to help you react,” she said. “A lot of times for women, we need to know how to respond … and when to show our emotions and when not to show our emotions.”

The statistics prove that having a mentor can be beneficial to getting a promotion, as well.

In a five-year mentoring program study, 40 percent of mentees and 50 percent of mentors were more likely to be promoted, according to the Mentoring Women’s Network.

Mentors and coworkers have helped pull Lopez through in her career, and she in turn has helped others, she said.

“I’ve gotten a lot of support from a lot of different areas,” she said. “The success of a company is so tied and integrated to the success of us as individuals.”

Lopez advises people to always look for a coach or mentor.

“Because there’s always some hidden norms or expectations that people aren’t going to be like, ‘Here, read the book and you’ll figure it all out,’” she said. “There’s always something that you (have) to learn from others.”

Asking for help is important, because it helps engage others and build relationships, she said.

“When you engage others in your personal investment, it makes them your partner,” Lopez said, “versus being your enemy or someone who’s not going to help support you.”

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