There are many different types of relationships that are important in our personal and professional lives. One of those key relationships you want to have is a mentor.
I’ll be explaining why this is an important relationship and how to find a mentor in this post. First let’s start with the basics, what exactly is a mentor?
What Is A Mentor
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a mentor as a trusted counselor or guide. Typically, a professional mentor is thought of in business/career aspects, but I believe you can have mentors in other areas of your life too to help you focus on personal development. I think this is especially true if you are going through big life changes.
Think of how great it would be to have someone by your side giving you advice and guidance when you are buying your first home or having a baby for the first time. As you are reading through this post, I challenge you to think of what area in your life you could use some guidance in. Then think about how a mentor can best help you with this.
Do you need someone that is encouraging or maybe someone that will give it to you straight and show you some tough love? Are you looking for guidance. asa new employee? Seeking advice for changes to your own career?
The role of a mentor can change over your lifelong relationship with them, and there are different types of mentors as well, so keep that in mind too.
Most mentors are found in the career space but truly they can be part of any area of your life. Your career mentor might also overflow into other areas of your life. The goal is to have this person help you improve and guide your own journey.
Why Having A Mentor is Important
A mentoring relationship is different because they are separate from friends, any family member, and sometimes even coworkers. They have likely been in your shoes before so they can give the best advice. You can learn answers to questions you never thought to ask.
Lastly, you have an outside eye to guide you when you get lost or stumped. In situations like finding a job or a new role, a career mentor could also be a great person to get you connected to people in your field. If you have a mentor outside of your career work, they should be a positive role model to help you thrive.
Having someone in your corner can give you confidence and also help you identify your weaknesses while leaning into your strengths.
Qualities That Make A Good Mentor
Now that we have established why you need a mentor, let’s figure out how to find the best mentors. You don’t want to just choose anyone to be a mentor. There are certain qualities of a good mentor that you should look for in your ideal mentor.
So when looking for good mentorship, look for these qualities to make sure you find a good match.
Great mentors know how to encourage you to pursue your goals and step out of your comfort zone. A good mentor will have a genuine interest in your life and growth.
Any journey or goal you have is going to come with challenges and setbacks. In these moments you need someone that is going to show you there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
An effective mentor is also someone that you can count on to tell you the truth and provide honest feedback. You need that sounding board to tell you what they really think, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear.
This will make your relationship stronger, and get you closer to what you are working towards.
Whether it’s entering a new career, striving for career success, or buying your first house, there is a lot of information and best practices to know. Your mentor is the perfect person to key you in with all of the information and resources you need and will be able to offer you different perspectives.
Being knowledgeable isn’t the only thing you want when it comes to your mentor’s expertise. You also want them to be experienced in what you are seeking mentoring for. Experience is the best teacher; so it will be more worthwhile if your mentor can draw from his or her own experiences.
Great mentors are life-long learners with years of experience to share, whether they have personal experiences with professional development or career progression, or they understand the depths of mental health and the specific situations of being a complex human being outside of a job.
Willing To Dedicate Their Time
A mentorship has no use if you can’t catch up with them on a regular basis. When determining if your mentor is a good fit, make sure you both are able to agree on what kind of time commitment is needed. Knowing this ahead of time will save a lot of confusion and disappointment later.
Part of a mentorship includes your mentor listening to your goals, struggles, and everything in between. The person agreeing to be your mentor should have great listening skills so that he or she can advise you to the best of their ability.
Otherwise you may as well be talking to yourself. Being a good listener IS a skill, and a better mentor will have these leadership skills AND make a safe space for you to speak honestly.
Gives Great Feedback
You have the opportunity to learn a wealth of knowledge and get great advice from having a mentor. Knowing how to apply that advice, and getting constructive feedback on how to apply it even more, is a rewarding part of this unique relationship.
You’ll want someone that gives feedback and direction with clarity so that you know exactly what to do. They may provide you with new ideas to explore, or direct action steps for a specific goal you have.
Since you are seeking a mentor I’m assuming you are looking to grow in your skills, experiences, and/or knowledge. A good mentor matches this energy.
They not only value growth as a whole, but more importantly, they value your growth and want to help you get there. You want someone that believes you can do anything and doesn’t set limits on your dreams.
Gives Great Insight
This goes hand in hand with being knowledgeable and encouraging. When looking for a great mentor you want the person to not only be knowledgeable, but know how to express that knowledge.
Being able to do that will keep you inspired and motivated. It helps to create a more meaningful bond between you and your mentor because it will lead to more thought-provoking and encouraging conversations.
We’ve reached the end of the list, but this is an important quality you want in a mentor. You want him/her to be someone that is trustworthy. By opening up and telling your mentor your dreams and goals, you are trusting them to guide you in the right direction.
After all, that is why you are looking for a mentor: it’s more than having a positive attitude. A good sign of a good relationship with your mentor is that they help you have a positive outlook, sure, but also you feel that you can trust them to help you find the best approach to navigate obstacles.
Final Thoughts on What Qualities Make a Good Mentor
Now that you know what a great mentor looks like and why they are an important relationship to build, it’s time to go find one. Remember to look for someone that has the qualities I mentioned, and make sure you are a good fit for each other. When you begin your mentee-mentor relationship you’ll quickly find out how beneficial having that person in your corner can be.
When looking at those qualities for a mentor, make sure you see them in yourself too. That could be you in the future being a mentor to someone else.
I believe that every great mentor was once a great mentee. When you think of it like that, wouldn’t you want to be the best mentor that you can be for another person?
Have you ever had a mentor or have been a mentor? What qualities would you add to the list?