In today's fast changing, knowledge economy, traditional management structures will not provide you the guidance you need to advance your professional career. Something a little bit more intimate is required. You owe it to yourself to find a mentor.
Your chosen mentor is a couple of steps ahead of you along the path that you are walking. You share common passions, similar ethics, and hold like values. You also disagree enough to challenge each others' perception of the universe.
Your mentor is someone that you trust. Someone who will help you bury the bodies if you really screw up.
Your mentor is a lot like a friend. Eventually, he will become your friend.
Your mentor is something more, you have an innate confidence in the advice that he provides. You trust his instincts, even when they conflict with yours. A good mentor is not your peer, a little bit of awe is healthy.
A good mentor is temporary, his job is to bring you up to his level. When that happens, your relationship has now evolved, you are now trusted comrades in arms.
Finally, a good mentor will learn as much from you as you will from him. You are inherently better at some things than your mentor. Your mentor learns by watching you in action. He is constantly challenged by your questions, and has to stretch himself to provide the right advice.
Is there anyone where you work who fits the bill of a good mentor? If the answer is no, you have some important work to do.
Executives, for those of you trying to think about how to start down the road of self organization, begin with fostering a mentorship culture.
Encourage the mentorship/mentee relationship amongst your staff, preferably outside of the official chain of command.
Start with you.