Everyone needs a mentor in their career to guide them through life’s struggles. Mentors can be important in all stages of your life. A good mentor provides you with the tools, guidance and feedback you need to prosper in your career. They’re often someone who’s followed the same path you’re on currently and are there to advise you on what they’ve done and what was helpful for them. A mentor should be able to play a consistent role in your life over some period of time.
They provide you with insights and experiences that either you may not possess or you have low visibility into. Moreover, having a mentor can help you when you’re battling to come up with a solution to a problem or are unable to make a decision. Having a mentor also helps you build your professional relationships because they may be connected with people who can help you someday.
Qualities of a Good Mentor
Not all mentors are made identical. The best mentors share some significant qualities. If you’re looking for a mentor or planning to be a good mentor yourself, these qualities are worth noting.
- Relevant Mastery or Knowledge – It may seem apparent, but your mentor should have some sort of relevant background. Maybe they’re a few levels ahead of you or have worked in the space you’re interested in. But they should be able to help push you forward because they’ve been there, seen all aspects, and know what it takes to be successful.
- Enthusiasm for Sharing That Expertise – Your mentor should be ready to share their expertise with you. They shouldn’t be someone who reluctantly hands over knowledge and expect payment in return, nor should they reveal things in a manipulative, uncertain fashion. Rather, they should be open and excited to propagate. A good mentor gives advice not because they like to be self-absorbed, but because they indeed want others to benefit from the arduous wisdom they’ve learned over the course of their careers.
- A Respectful Attitude – You don’t want someone who criticizes and ill-treats you or others close to you, and eventually gives you a bad name. That leads to an unproductive and frustrating partnership. On other instances when good mentors act in a less respectful manner, they admit it and apologize genuinely.
- Keenness to Invest in Others – Everybody wants a mentor who finds real joy in helping others. Great mentors are patient in how they guide others in their journey. They don’t expect immediate profits, and they don’t quit easily. More remarkably, they are bothered about maintaining and growing their professional relationships.
- Giving Direct and Honest Feedback – Finding someone who’s respectful is essential. A good mentor knows how to give constructive feedback in a way that’s kind, and direct, and doesn’t hesitate from being honest because they care about your feelings.
- Reflective Listening and Empathy – These are important qualities in a mentor because they know all the answers, but if they’re not ready to listen to where you’re coming from, they won’t be able to push you in the direction that you wish to go. Your mentor should be asking questions more often than just telling you what to do. So, look for someone you can trust to consider your values and input over their own.
- Willingness to Be a Sponsor – Not every mentor needs to be a sponsor, but it can be really useful to have this kind of mentor at your end. While a mentor is someone who can guide and support you, a sponsor is an associate who takes it one step further by being someone who is actively boosting both openly and behind closed doors. They use their political probability and relationship capital to get you access to possible choices that you would not be able to get on your own.
While it’s great to be calculated about finding a mentor, don’t expect things to work out right away. The best approach is to keep building relationships with people and learning from them. Having a mentor means desiring to have their skills and to gain the knowledge that they possess. A good mentor is an expert in his field and voluntarily guides others. They are experienced at solving big problems and helping others to grow and become leaders and finally mentors, too. Mentors make decisions and act according to their values and emotions instead of just on what is more profitable, making it possible to balance everything.