10 Things to Look For in a Valuable Mentor
Over the past decade or two, the value of mentoring has become widely understood. Many organisations now offer mentoring programs, where executive level professionals support their younger colleagues’ success. As with most things, there are good mentors and there are not-so-good mentors. What can you do to make sure you’re aligning yourself with a mutually beneficial mentor?
There are qualities that seem to distinguish truly good and helpful mentors from those who are indifferent or even harmful. A good mentor possesses the following qualities.
1. Willingness to share skills, knowledge and expertise
A good mentor is willing to teach what he/she knows and accept the mentee where they currently are in their professional development. Good mentors recall what it was like starting out in their field, and therefore should not take the mentoring relationship lightly. They understand that good mentoring requires time and commitment, and are willing to continually show support to the mentee.
2. Demonstrates a positive attitude and acts as a positive role model
A good mentor exhibits the personal attributes it takes to be successful in the field. By showing the mentee what it takes to be productive and successful, they are demonstrating the specific behaviours and actions required to succeed in the field.
3. Takes a personal interest in the mentoring relationship
Good mentors do not take their responsibility lightly. They feel invested in the success of the mentee. Usually this requires someone who is knowledgeable, compassionate and possesses the attributes of a good teacher or trainer. Excellent communication skills are also required. A good mentor is committed to helping their mentees find success and gratification in their chosen profession. Overall, valuable mentoring requires empowering the mentee to develop their own strengths, beliefs and personal attributes.
4. Exhibits enthusiasm in their career
A mentor who does not exhibit enthusiasm about his/her job will ultimately not make a good mentor. Enthusiasm is catching and new employees want to feel as if their job has meaning and the potential to create a fulfilling career.
5. Values ongoing learning and growth in the field
Mentors are in a position to illustrate how their industry is growing and changing, and that even after many years, there are still new things to learn. Those who feel stagnant in their current position may not make a good mentor. When starting out in a new career, people want to feel that the time and energy they spend learning will be rewarded and will ultimately provide them with career satisfaction. Good mentors are committed and are open to experimenting and learning practices that are new to the field. They continually read professional journals and may even write articles on subjects where they have developed some expertise. They are excited to share their knowledge with new people entering the field and take their role seriously in sharing their knowledge to others. They may choose to teach or attend classes to further develop their knowledge and skills. They enjoy taking workshops and attending professional conferences provided through their membership in professional associations.
6. Provides guidance and constructive feedback
One of the key responsibilities of a good mentor is to provide guidance and constructive feedback to their mentee. This is where the mentee will most likely grow the most by identifying their current strengths and weaknesses and learning how to use these to master these for success. A good mentor possesses excellent communication skills and is able to adjust their communication to the personality style of the mentee. They will also provide the mentee with challenges that will foster professional development.
7. Respected by colleagues and employees from all levels
Ideally, mentees look up to their mentors and can see themselves filling the mentor’s role in the future. Mentees want to follow someone who is well respected by colleagues and co-workers, and whose contribution in the field is appreciated.
8. Sets and meets ongoing personal and professional goals
A good mentor continually sets a good example by showing how his/her personal habits are reflected by personal and professional goals and overall personal success.
9. Values the opinions and initiatives of others
A mentor who values others is also someone who works well in a team environment and is willing to share their success. A good mentor appreciates the ongoing effort of the mentee and empowers them through positive feedback and reinforcement.
10. Motivates others by setting a good example
This is the ultimate success of being a good mentor. If you are lucky enough to find a good mentor, pay it forward by being one for others.
What do you think?
Having a mentor can be helpful; having a mentor who is self-reflective, discreet, honest, curious, and generous can be life-changing. I’d love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with a mentor, good or bad, and any other advice you might have for choosing a great one. Comment your views below and join the conversation.
This article was written by Jelena Milutinovic on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Forbes; Franchise Growth Partners and LinkedIn
Image credit: Huffington Business