The Surprising Secret to Finding Mentors

water on leaves

The dark side of leadership is worse when you feel alone. Leaders face frustration, disappointment, confusion, doubt, stress, fear, and more. Hopelessness defeats leaders unless they replenish strength and find direction.

Hope is a function of relationship.

Leaders with mentors go further.


  1. Elevate your game.
  2. Believe in your potential and talent.
  3. Challenge limitations.
  4. Protect from danger.
  5. Build character.
  6. Enhance opportunities.
  7. Share their life with candor and transparency.
  8. Solve “with” not “for.”
  9. Exemplify qualities you want to develop.
  10. Connect you with others.

Unexpected secret:

Michael Leavitt, three time governor of Utah, dropped a mentor-nugget in my lap, when we talked about his new book, “Finding Alliances, Building Allies.”

“The way you cultivate good mentors is you figure out what’s important to them…”

Begin with giving. Cultivate mentors by pouring into them before asking them to pour into you. Figure out where they want to go and help them get there. It’s as simple as helping a professor lay sod.

Governor Leavitt shared the story of a student who needed a mentor. He heard that his professor was laying sod in his back yard. The student just showed up to help but in the end cultivated a mentor.

Gain influence by helping others reach their goals.

Governor Leavitt tells the story in 79 seconds: 

Seven strategies for finding mentors:

  1. Just ask. This may feel stiff and formal but it’s an option.
  2. Seek their insights on small issues.
  3. Ask them to share stories from their life.
  4. Consider someone younger than you.
  5. Buy them lunch.
  6. Escalate the relationship. Begin with email, for example.
  7. Ask for a suggestion, follow through, and report back.

Bonus: Cultivate more than one mentor.

Everyone needs a “with.”

How can leaders find mentors?

What have mentors done for you?