It is a huge privilege and responsibility to be a mentor to someone. A privilege because the mentee sees something in their mentor that they aspire to be like, and a responsibility for the mentor to add value to the mentees life through helping them develop their skills, knowledge and ultimately growth.
One does not have to have a fancy job title to be a mentor. Mentorship can happen on all levels in both a formal and informal scenario. Many people feel that being a mentor requires special skills, but mentors are simply people who have the qualities of good role models. So what does it take to be a good mentor?
1. Clear outcomes
There needs to be a clear understanding from both parties as to why the mentoring is taking place and what the outcomes and expectations are. This will help to keep both parties accountable along the way and ensure value is being exchanged.
2. Building ‘know-how’
A willingness to share skills, knowledge, and expertise remembering that the mentor too at one stage was just starting out and that good mentoring requires time and commitment and is willing to continually share information and their ongoing support with the mentee.
3. Provides guidance and constructive feedback
A mentor is also a sounding board for the mentee. Not only someone that the mentee can confide in but also have the ability to bounce their ideas off without fear of being ridiculed or judged (read point 2 above). They should be free to express themselves and receive constructive input and insights from their mentor. A mentor is someone with whom you can let down your guard, share your insecurities, and ask the ‘stupid’ questions we all have at times.
4. A good listener
A mentor needs to be able to be fully present and listen to not only what the mentee is saying but also really hear what they are saying and how they see things from their perspective. This means putting yourself in the shoes of your mentee and being fully present for them.
5. Role models
Mentors are not only successful themselves, but they also foster success in others. They ‘walk their talk” and are a role model to their mentees but also within their larger networks and communities.
Mentors should not under estimate the learning’s they can take from their mentee – after all exchange is a two way process and the mentee can also teach their mentor a thing or two. At the end of the day it’s a willingness to be coached and to coach – there is no room for ego or hidden agenda’s but rather authentic and real exchanges to realise the full benefit of Mentorship.
Feel free to speak to me today about any challenging or relationship dynamics situations you may be experiencing in your organisation and how I can assist you in dealing with it.
Or speak to me about ways in which we can set your teams and organisation up for success.
Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert, TEDx speaker and author of embracing conflict. She works with individuals and organisations to cultivate healthy relationships addressing elements such as conflict management, relationship building, communication and more.