No, I’m not a female. But during my time as an Army Officer I had the opportunity to serve with many female officers. I’ve had female bosses and I’ve also supervised female officers.
So, I want to do something unique today and offer some mentorship ideas for female officers, but from a guy’s perspective. These are seven tips you can follow to get the mentoring you need to succeed in your Army Career. The tips are listed in no particular order.
#1 Find a Successful Female Officer Mentor – I think your best starting point is to find a female officer that you respect and ask them to be your mentor. They can be someone in your unit or someone outside your unit. Finding a retiree is also a good option. If you can find a female officer who had a successful career, who you respect, this will be your greatest resource. This woman will have been there and done that and she will have some great career and leadership advice to share with you.
# 2 Find a Successful Female NCO Mentor – Let’s face it, you will learn a lot from NCOs. Some of my best mentorship in the Army came from my NCOs. Like step one, I suggest you find a successful female senior NCO and form a professional working relationship with them. Pull them aside and tell them you respect them and would like to pick their brain and learn what you can from them. Any decent NCO will be more than glad to help you.
# 3 Read the Pertinent FMs and Army Regulations – One of the best ways to learn and get mentorship is by reading. I know it sounds overly simple and isn’t sexy, but you can really sharpen your skills by reading a variety of field manuals and Army Regulations. Read everything you can about leadership. Study all of the branch specific regulations and manuals. Readers are leaders and leaders are readers.
# 4 Teach Classes and Trainings Whenever Possible – One of the best ways to develop your skills is to teach others. I know that this tip might sound weird, but I’ve always believed that the teacher learns more than the students. Volunteer to teach an OPD, NCODP, or class whenever possible. As you prepare for the class, you will have to educate yourself about the topic and you will learn a lot as you get prepared.
# 5 Learn What You Can From Male Officers and Counterparts – Don’t look at your male counterparts as the enemy. Learn what you can from them. Men and women think very differently. Getting access to the “other side’s” perspective is very important. Find a few male officers that you respect and trust and learn from them whenever you can.
# 6 Participate in Military Associations and Groups – Another great place to find a mentor is to participate in military associations. Join the association for your branch, your military service, your commissioning source and also consider joining the AMVETS, VFW or other veteran’s organizations. These organizations are truly an untapped resource for mentors.
# 7 Ask Your Boss for Personal Mentoring – Learn everything you can from your boss. Be good at your job and let your boss know that you are serious about your career and want to learn everything you can from them. Ask for one-on-one time, make sure they do their counseling, and let them know you want to be the best leader you can.
In summary, these are just seven mentorship ideas and tips for female Army Officers. The bottom line is that it is your responsibility to manage your own career and find a mentor. Don’t expect a mentor to just magically appear. You have to seek out a mentor (or two) and be proactive.
What are your thoughts on this subject? What are your best mentorship tips and ideas for female Army Officers? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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4 thoughts on “Top 7 Mentorship Ideas and Tips for Female Army Officers”
Although I think it would be nice if a a female officer could find a female officer mentor, that may not always be practical depending on the demographics of the unit. The most important thing is to have at least one excellent officer mentor AND one excellent NCO mentor.
Both will teach you important things and you will get perspectives from both the enlisted and officer side of the house.
Teaching classes is always a great way to learn new skills and to challenge yourself. Not only will you learning a lot on the subject, you will also learn how to teach which is a very effective tool.
I agree that having one NCO and one Officer mentor is really important.
You know what’s funny? I’ve never outright asked for mentorship! In any field I’ve been in I have naturally migrated toward people I can learn from (like a fly to a blue light). Most of the time I learn from their example (what to do and what not to do) and I try to exude confidence. When I was interviewing for a promotion at my local newspaper I had a meeting with the publisher. He asked where I saw myself in 10 years. My answer? ‘In this office.’ At first I think I surprised him, but I amused him too. Not too many people walk into the main office and tells the boss they want his job. I guess when you’re surrounded by ‘yes’ men, a little honesty and self-confidence goes a long way. My point is: if you know the direction of your career then you need to hang out with the people whose job you want. If they are a confident and effective leader they are going to give you access to their processes and insights.
Whether you are a mentor or mentee – it’s important to put yourself in learning opportunities all the time. It’s kind of funny, but it never occurred to me to actually ask for personal mentoring! I’ve always been under the radar – more of an observer and ask questions when I have them. I like #4 – teaching classes and training whenever possible. It serves a few purposes: obviously mentoring but also hones your public speaking skills.