There are lots of talks about how beneficial mentoring relationships are and how much young professionals need mentoring. Of course, having a mentor is a vital part of one’s career and personal growth. A mentor acts as a guide, a friend, a sponsor, and a counselor. However, there is no doubt that becoming a mentor is also a wonderful opportunity for experienced professionals; because mentoring has great benefits for mentors too.
But being a mentor is a tough job. It requires determination, commitment, and genuine interest to help others. Above all, it needs certain qualities that are not naturally present in everyone. If you are about to involve in a mentoring program as a mentor, practicing these six qualities of a good mentor can lead you to success.
- Willingness to share skills and knowledge
- Values learning
- Active listener
- Knows how to provide feedback
- Motivates others
- Emotionally intelligent
1. Willingness To Share Skills & Knowledge
A good mentor accepts mentees as they are and is always ready to teach what they have learned from their experience. They do not pass on their knowledge reluctantly; nor do they share their expertise in a vague manner. Rather, they are enthusiastic about sharing knowledge and skills; because they know what it is like to be starting out in the career. They understand that a mentee requires time and continuous support from them to grow. And they are willing to provide that support.
A good mentor doesn’t give advice or guide their mentees because they have to, but because they want to.
2. A Good Mentor Values Learning
While mentors are experts in specific areas, one cannot know everything; and a good mentor understands that. They are life-long learners and pass on that desire to their mentees.
A valuable quality of a good mentor is the awareness that it is okay to be an expert, and still not know everything. A mentor who can demonstrate the willingness to learn new things and is not afraid to let the mentee know it is someone worth spending time with.
Good mentors not only continue to learn from their own journeys but also learn from their mentees.
If you want to understand the importance of continuous learning, check out this article by LinkedIn.
3. Active Listening Is One Of The Key Qualities Of A Good Mentor
A good mentor is someone who understands the mentees' problems and works towards the solution. If they do not have their full attention when the mentee is talking, chances are, they will miss out on vital information. As a result, they will not be able to provide the right solution to the mentee.
That's why a mentor must concentrate on the mentee in order to understand, respond, and remember what is being said. Like any other skill, active listening is a skill that can be developed through practice.
A good mentor has the following characteristics of an active listener:
- They stop talking: not because they are thinking about what to say next, but because they are trying to focus on what the mentee is saying.
- Listening is a learning experience for them: they think of the speaker as someone who can teach them something, no matter who the speaker is.
- They avoid close-ended questions: because they are rarely satisfied with a "yes" or "no" answer. Instead, they ask open-ended questions so that the mentee can think about a particular problem and come up with the solution on their own.
- They do not just focus on the words: they pay attention to the mentee's body language and tone to be able to read between the lines.
- They respect what the mentee says: even if they don't agree with them. They often summarize the conversation by using statements like "If I am not wrong, what you're saying is..." or "... this is what you said, tell me more about it.
- They use positive body language: such as a nod or a smile, to let the mentee know that they are listening; and encourage them to talk more.
4. A Good Mentor Knows How To Provide Feedback
Feedback is the best way to support one’s development. Even the most skillful person needs feedback to continue to grow. If given in the right way, both positive and negative feedback is beneficial for the receiver and a good mentor knows how to do it.
Some of the benefits of effective feedback are:
- It motivates the mentee to work harder towards their goals
- It promotes honesty and trust, which in turn, improves the mentor-mentee relationship
- Feedback is a way to make sure the mentee doesn’t repeat his/her mistakes
The best mentors tell mentees what they need to hear, not what they like to hear. But constructive feedback is often mistaken for criticism. That’s why it is important to understand that feedback must not be degrading. It is simply to inform the mentee of a shortcoming and identify corrective actions.
5. Qualities Of A Good Mentor Includes The Ability To Motivate Others
Everyone has a comfort zone and one must come out of it if they want to succeed in life.
Good mentors understand that life is full of surprises and everyone has to accept it the way it comes. Therefore, it’s important to push the mentee out of their comfort zone, so that they are better prepared for anything that comes their way.
A mentor identifies their mentee’s comfort zone and comes up with activities that force them to think outside of the box, experience new things, and learn from mistakes.
Also read: How My Mentor Helped Me Find My Confidence
6. They Are Emotionally Intelligent
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of their own emotions as well as others’ emotions, and being able to manage it while making decisions or influencing others. An emotionally intelligent person is empathetic with others but not overwhelmed by emotions.
Emotional intelligence affects a mentoring relationship and influences its effectiveness for both mentor and mentee. Mentees often become vulnerable while talking to their mentors or sharing their problems. If the mentor doesn’t know how to handle the situation, it can lead to a negative mentoring experience for both mentor and mentee. The best mentors are tactful while dealing with mentees’ vulnerability.
Mentors with high levels of emotional intelligence openly share their feelings, fears, and doubts, and what they did to overcome those challenges.