IMHO a good mentor is…
During my long break from this blog because of hectic school/life life (unfortunately, I am not the type to take the law of basketweaving as one of my classes in my final semester), I had a chance to think a lot about mentoring.
I am lucky to have a few amazing mentors in my life. I am also honored to be a mentor, myself. Since I have been on both sides of the mentor coin, for better or worse I take the mentor/mentee relationship pretty seriously. The impact a mentor can have on a person’s life is tremendous, and, in my opinion, the responsibility should not be taken lightly. Often times, a mentor serves as a mentee’s sole support system, and if that trust is breached, it could have a negative effect, leading the mentee to feel unimportant discouraged. When an individual has only that one person in their corner, as their encouraging (but realistic) cheerleader, it is even more important for the mentor to be conscious of how his or her actions impact the mentee.
In my personal opinion, based on my experiences, here are some key qualities of a good mentor.
1. Acting as a positive role model. A good mentor should practice what they preach – they should be well respected in their industry, and an encouraging and positive leader. Sometimes the best kind of mentors are those unofficial “silent” mentors who, by their work ethic and life philosophy, set positive examples that influence people naturally. I don’t think many mentees out there want to be like people who are miserable, mean, and have a bad reputation in their industry or community. But then again, people are weird so I suppose that’s possible, too.
2. Having a genuine interest in their mentee’s growth, whether personal or career focused. A good mentor takes the time to get to know their mentee’s goals in life/work. Since the purpose of a mentor is to facilitate the growth and development of their mentee, it would seem to defeat the purpose of the mentoring relationship if a mentor did not take the time to find out more about the mentee, what inspires them, what motivates them, what their goals are.
3. Willingness to invest time in the mentor/mentee relationship. Being a mentor is not a job to be taken lightly. It requires time and commitment from both parties, but as the role model, the mentor really must pave the way and might have to sacrifice time from other things, especially if the mentor is a busy professional. As I stated earlier, a mentor might be the only positive influence a person has in his or her life, and if the mentor bails or does not value the relationship, this could be detrimental to the mentee’s psyche and future development.
Please post any experiences or thoughts you would like to share about qualities of a mentor in the comments. As mentoring is very dear to me, my goal is to expand more on this topic in future posts.