The 2015 Police Security Expo in Atlantic City showcased some of the finest tactical equipment a department can purchase, but also included training sessions throughout the course of the two-day conference. President of the New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement and retired Captain Lori Mambelli discussed the importance of mentoring women and the fundamental steps a leader in the police department can take to mentor female officers.
“To recruit women, they have to see there are women in leadership positions as well,” explained Mambelli. “Women will connect more easily when they see females as leaders. My best mentoring relationship was with a female chief because I was able to connect with her.”
Mambelli emphasized the importance of having females in leadership positions to train up and coming officers. Those in leadership positions, male or female, should take on a mentoring role.
As she spoke, she raised questions to the dozen or so officers in attendance. “How many of us here attribute to our “success” to a mentoring relationship?” One or two raised their hands in compliance. “For those who didn’t, could we have done better in our careers, personal development and leadership skills if we had a mentor?” Everyone nodded in agreement.
The mentor relationship is one that offers wisdom, guidance and advice in a student/teacher type of relationship. In order to forge a successful mentor relationship, it must come from a genuine place.
“Take is personally, that’s what is important,” appealed Mambelli. “If you don’t take it to heart when you mentor someone, it’s a waste of time. People can see it. People can see it’s fake.”
A mentor can help overcome many of the obstacles in the workplace.
Obstacles to Career Advancement for Women
- Lack of influential mentor or sponsor
- Lack of networking with influential colleagues
- Lack of competent role models who are members of similar racial and ethnic groups.
- High visibility assignments
Mambelli continued to use a slideshow to explain the role of a mentor and provide tips for who a mentor is and what he/she does.
Who is a Mentor?
- A friend, an advocate role model who displays integrity and courage. You have to be trusted.
- Volunteer the time
- Provide personal coaching and interpret the organizational culture
- A sounding board and a good listener
- Suggest rather than direct
- Respond to request for guidance rather than unsolicited advice.
Framework for Mentoring
- Frequency of meetings
- Clarifying responsibility for relationship
- Realistic time-framed expectations
- Who possesses the drive?
- Who is willing to be challenged?
- Are they able to listen to others and accept guidance?
- Are they willing to take responsibility for personal development?
- Must be open to change
Strategies for Success
- Exceed performance expectations consistently
- Develop professional communication styles with male managers
- Seek difficult and high visibility assignments
- Blow your own horn and sell yourself on work achievements