Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is wildly respected as one of the world’s most influential people. There is a common trait Sheryl shares with influential leaders in nearly every field – a loyal organic mentor. An organic mentorship doesn’t need to be formal or clearly defined; rather with each new word of wisdom the mentorship takes form. Sheryl jokes in her bestseller Lean In that if you have to ask your mentor “are you my mentor?” then they probably are not. Rather successful mentorships develop while the word “mentor” isn’t necessarily part of the equation. A mentor can afford valuable guidance accelerating your career. So how do you get a mentor without formally asking?

  1. Diversity is key – having a different set of eyes and hands approach topics will be priceless. Commit to diversity in your search.
  2. Get involved – network, volunteer, be part of the community in which you work and live.
  3. Instead of asking someone to mentor you, focus first on making a strong impression and allowing the relationship to emerge organically.
  4. If you are of the mindset that if you get a mentor you will excel, reverse it. You will get a mentor when you excel. You will excel on your own as a result of your hard work and your ability to solve problems that others don’t have the courage to tackle.
  5. Look beyond your organization. Is there someone outside the organization whose leadership style and work ethic caught your attention? If so, reach out and pick their mind about an issue or challenge you are facing.


Allow things to take shape and soon mentorship will organically take form. Understand that your mentor likely finds the time spent with you incredibly rewarding. Seeing you take off in your career or tackle challenges as a result of the powwows you’ve shared will be inspiring. Remember to pay it forward – it won’t be long before someone taps you on the shoulder and the mentorship cycle begins again.