Intentional Relationships: Mentoring (Part 3)
HOW TO BE AN OUTSTANDING MENTOR
If you’ve been hanging out with us all week so far, we have already discussed what it is to be a mentor and mentee, as well as how to find your perfect mentor. Today we’re going to talk all about how to actually BE an outstanding mentor.
There are the obvious benefits of having a mentor—someone who shows you the ropes, helps with career planning and guidance, listens to your struggles, is there to offer advice when you encounter problems,—but...
But if this is all your mentor provides for you, you might have what I call a "basic mentor." Finding a basic mentor, or any mentor for that matter, is not an easy task. Finding an OUTSTANDING mentor, though? It’s flat out difficult.
But it’s possible…. and the more we all strive to be one, the more available they will become!
5 TRAITS OF AN OUTSTANDING MENTOR
1. THEY HELP YOU DISCOVER YOUR
PROFESSIONAL & PERSONAL STRENGTHS
If your mentor knows you well enough and happens to work in the same organization as you do (professionally or personally), they should be able to observe you, your performance, and your impact. Over time, this gives them the advantage to pinpoint where you’ve made the biggest contribution, and guide you on how to hone in on those skill sets involved. Even if they don’t work in your office, they should regularly ask you the kinds of pointed, critical questions that force you to assess your own work, character, and professional style. A great mentor won’t tell you what to do—they’ll help you think critically.
2. THEY WILL CHALLENGE AND DEVELOP YOU
As a continuation of knowing your strengths, a great mentor will regularly suggest how and where to find resources to develop yourself. Part of what makes a mentor outstanding is the mentor’s own ability to keep up with technologies and latest resources for refining a trade, your character, and continuous self-improvement. Look for someone who’s eager and curious about their own work and industry and who loves to share.
3. THEY’RE YOUR DEVIL'S ADVOCATE
& BIGGEST CHEERLEADER (AT THE SAME TIME)
One of the most valuable things a mentor can do with is to help you evaluate your options when you hit a “fork” in your career or personal path and need to make a decision. A good mentor will help expand your thinking and make sure your thought processes cover as many aspects of your life, professional and personal, as possible. They’ll ask the toughest questions. And when you’ve made a decision, they will support you and cheer you on.
4. THEY GIVE YOU HONEST &
Receiving and giving criticism is an art form, to say the least. We all have cringe-worthy memories of giving or receiving criticism. If done well, though, it takes mentorship from good to outstanding. This step requires a mutually trusting relationship between you and your mentor—it takes you being open and vulnerable, and your mentor being honest and tactful.
5. THEY GROW WITH YOU
This is probably the most difficult element to cultivate in a mentorship if it doesn’t spontaneously develop over time. The truth is that people change. We hear the same thing about romantic relationships, in which two partners have to be open and honest about the changes in their thinking, beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses. A good mentor has to be aware of your growth and his or her own growth. This means there may be a time, when your needs as a mentee evolve beyond their capacity as a mentor. Or there may also be a time when your mentor is taking on new challenges in their life, where you can reverse the roles and for you to offer up advice. Again, this takes a strong foundation in your relationship and a ton of trust. The goal here is to evolve with each other.
Have you had an outstanding mentor with qualities that need to be added to this list? I’d love to hear about your experience in a comment below!
P.S... You can read the other posts in this series here: