In today’s complex and evolving business environment, successfully navigating its challenges is crucial. The key to this lies in possessing a combination of both soft and hard skills. An effective way to gain insights into the best approaches is by having a mentor, someone with greater experience, who can offer valuable guidance.
Not too long ago in my career, I felt like my progress was coming to a rolling stop even though I was a high achiever and top earner. I was performing well, but I wasn’t achieving my real goals. It was at this point that I realised the importance of learning and building connections and relationships with the right people was the key to overcoming this obstacle.
A mentor is essential in guiding and helping you in your personal and professional development. A great mentor does more than just transfer knowledge and skills; they inspire, motivate, and empower you to achieve your greatest potential.
I will always remember a quote from Ted Lasso (yes, it’s a silly show, but it’s still a great quote) …
“A good mentor hopes you will move on. A great mentor knows you will”.
Excellent Communication Skills
Any successful mentor-mentee relationship is built on effective communication. An excellent mentor has great communication skills that allow them to communicate ideas clearly, actively listen, and provide constructive feedback. They foster an open and nonjudgmental environment in which you can freely discuss your ideas, concerns, and goals without fear of being criticized or shot down.
Good mentors will not need to dominate the conversation. Rather, meetings will include hearing from mentees as well as offering advice. Be wary of mentors who take over the conversation. Keep in mind also that you are not obliged to follow the advice of your mentors. If a mentor criticises you — publicly or privately — for not listening to them, it might be time to reconsider the relationship.
Calm and Collected
A real mentor possesses the remarkable ability to assess and appreciate the beliefs and opposing opinions of others with a composed and collected demeanour. They understand that fostering a respectful and open environment is crucial for growth and learning. Moreover, a skilled mentor recognises the importance of recognising their own limitations and embraces humility by acknowledging that they do not possess all the answers. However, they also possess the wisdom to discern when it is appropriate to push their point and provide guidance, recognising that there are moments when asserting their perspective can lead to valuable insights and development.
Empathy and Comprehension
Empathy is a key characteristic of a great mentor. They can understand and relate to your experiences, struggles, and emotions. A mentor may establish trust, a deep relationship, and a secure space for you to share your worries and seek help by displaying empathy. They understand your perspective and tailor their approach accordingly.
Commitment to Growth and Development
A good mentor is committed to your growth and development. They devote time and effort to learning about your goals, strengths, and areas for development. They help you to set realistic goals, build action plans, and stay focused on your progress by providing continual direction and support. They also urge you to stretch yourself, take chances, and embrace new opportunities for advancement. They are your role model, exhibiting a dedication to lifelong learning and inspiring you to do the same.
However, there is another side to this coin — a mentor that is more focused on their superiority to a mentee is not in the right mindset to guide anyone. Mentoring is about helping someone else develop their skills and abilities.
Leads by Example
A mentor not only imparts knowledge and wisdom, but also leads by example. They consistently demonstrate the values, skills, and behaviours they teach, practicing what they preach. They understand that actions speak louder than words, and they strive to be a living embodiment of the principles they espouse. A mentor’s willingness to roll up their sleeves and work alongside you, metaphorically getting in the trenches, is a testament to their dedication and commitment. They actively participate in the learning and growth process, fostering a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect. By leading by example, a mentor inspires and motivates you to strive for excellence.