Being A Great Mentor

By Sara White posted 06-18-2017 09:31


Sujan Patel in 6 Things Great Mentors Do Differently. Good mentors are like Yoda -- and other lessons from the mentorship sphere has the following advice.

  • Look for the following six factors that set great mentors apart.
  • Great mentors take action.
    • Good mentors should believe in their mentees enough to take risks for them. That means introducing them to people who could be helpful to their careers, passing on their resumes to your contact at a company they're interested in, letting them shadow or attend meetings with you or pointing them toward a conference or program that could enrich their careers.
    • Takeaway: It's easy to talk a good game in mentorship. But it's the mentors who follow through with actual action that stand apart from those willing to offer advice alone.
  • Great mentors present challenges.
    • Great mentors invest in the success of their mentees and, often, that means pushing them beyond their expectations. An article from Kauffman Entrepreneurs ties this one back to one of pop culture's greatest examples of mentorship, the Star Warscharacter, Yoda
    • Yoda sets out one challenge after another for Luke to help Luke manage himself better, hone his skills and more fully appreciate his responsibilities to use The Force for good.
    • Takeaway: If you're a mentor, be like Yoda. Always expect more from your mentees. They may not know what they're capable of otherwise.
  • Great mentors don't sugarcoat their failings.
    • When you're in a mentorship role, it can be tempting to be the "all-knowing, all-powerful" being your mentee sees you as. And who among us hasn't wanted to gloss over some of the more embarrassing mistakes we've made in the past?
    • Don't do it. Sugarcoating your failings does a disservice to your mentee, who will likely encounter many of the same challenges that led to your mistakes. Yes, it's hard to admit failure. But if you've learned from your mistakes (and I hope you have), give your mentees the benefit of that wisdom as well.
  • Great mentors have the experience their mentees want.
    • On the surface, this one probably seems obvious. But where I think many mentees go wrong is looking at this in a general sense, rather than focusing on the specifics.
    • Say you want to be the next leader in your organization, professional organization president, or publish. If that's the case, the best mentor for you could be someone who has or is doing these things
  • Great mentors are "emotionally intelligent."
    • Let's face it: We aren't all emotionally intelligent people. Emotional intelligence requires being open-minded and inquisitive, listening well and reading body language correctly. Mentors who don't have these skills risk doing a disservice to their mentees.
    • A mentor who is emotionally intelligent possesses the skills to control his or her own emotions, as well as the ability to empathize with others. An emotionally intelligent mentor is also able to handle interpersonal relationships prudently and calmly.
  • Great mentors say no
    • .Especially in forced mentorship situations, mentors may find it difficult to set boundaries. But in all circumstances, it's the ability to say no that makes a mentor truly effective.
    • Great mentors may say no in each of the following scenarios (as well as others):
      • Making an introduction that the mentee isn't prepared for
      • Requests mentors don't have time to accommodate
      • Requests mentors know they won't follow through on
    • Again, saying no (instead of "maybe") isn't always comfortable. Just as with sugarcoating past failings, saying no is a skill that requires time and wisdom to cultivate. Without it, both mentors and mentees risk winding up unhappy with the relationship and what they each get out of it.

Challenge yourself to be a better mentor.