On Monday, I blogged about the book, "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg. In the book was a section on the importance of mentorship, especially for women. I have been a both the mentee as well as the mentor. I recognize the challenges associated with a male / female mentorship relationship, but I have made it work.
One of my early mentors was a woman who was an excellent boss and a true mentor. We both competed for the same promotion to VP and she got the job and I was left to report to her. She immediately changed my responsibilities by adding clinical and ancillary departments to my already strong base of support areas. She then assigned me the responsibility of project manager for Stereotactic Radiosurgery using the Gamma Knife, which was the first to be used clinically in the US. As a result, I worked hard but became a rock star in the organization. The Gamma Knife was new, clinically cool and from Sweden. I gleaned a great deal of international exposure and experience. She did more for my professional development than anyone ever had. I came to like and respect her immediately and, ultimately, she became a very good friend.
I have also had the privilege of serving as a mentor over the years to a lot of both young and mature executive talent by broadening their knowledge, assigning stretch assignments, assigning special projects, exposing them to challenging situations, introducing them to key individuals and rotating them through different positions in an effort to glean addition experience. There isn't any reason males should shy away from serving as mentors to females or vice versa. Serving as a mentor should be a priority for every executive during their professional career as it can be exceedingly rewarding for both.