8 Things Mentors Want in a Mentee

Young and up-and-coming executives and entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for someone whom they can learn from.  They want someone who will take their idea to the next level.  Someone whose wisdom acquired in a certain field can be the key to having the next multimillion or billion-dollar enterprise.  Mentoring programs are often so caught up in the satisfying a potential protégé’s needs that they are likely to overcome a key factor in the mentor-mentee relationship.  What’s that you ask?  Simply put, they are overlooking a simple question:  What is the mentor looking for in a mentee?  The answer lies in eight qualities mentors want out of their prospective mentees.

One Person's Mentoring Experience_suzzanne uhland_mentoring
Image courtesy of NASA APPEL at Flickr.com
  1.    Commitment to the task at hand

Mentors are usually high level executives or someone who is well recognized in a certain area.  As such, their time is quite valuable and there is no room for slacking off.  They know first-hand that sacrifice and success go hand in hand.  Mentors want a protégé that is willing to make sacrifices and work harder than anyone to achieve his or her goals with a little guidance from someone who has been there and done that.

  1.    Flexibility matters

A good mentee should leave stubbornness at home.  Being able to take a mentor’s advice and suggestions without getting upset is key in a successful mentor-mentee relationship.  Mentors have a wealth of experience from years of practice.  Mentees must be open to accepting that this experience is valuable and take it as a tool rather than an imposition.  While a mentee might have a great idea, the approach on how to get it off the ground might not be the best one.  Good mentees are willing to change strategies for the benefit of the cause.

  1.    Someone proactive

Taking suggestions is important.  Analyzing the advice given, considering new paths, and proposing ideas is also.  Mentees should not wait for the mentor to tell him or her what to do next.  They must feel empowered to make choices and propose other points of view with the mentor.  It will always be better to bring someone back down to earth than to constantly keep pushing them.

  1.    Humbleness goes a long way

Once again, mentors are educated and experienced and with great amount of wisdom when it comes to what they do.  Sharing this experience could sometimes go against what the mentee has in mind.  It’s very important for a protégé to take a mentor’s knowledge humbly, understanding that their track record speaks for them and that any advice handed down will always be to help the protégé rather than hold them back.

Hanging Out_suzzanne uhland_mentor and mantee_motivated to succeed
Image courtesy of Sam Antonio Photography at Flickr.com
  1.    Motivated to succeed

Mentors want someone with the drive to succeed.  They want a mentee who will not stay down when failure slaps them in the face but rather take the blown, dust off, and keep on going.  Mentors want mentees to look at failure as a how not to do something rather than a stopping point.  A mentee must analyze what went wrong and make decisions on how to ensure it won’t be repeated.  A positive attitude toward the goal helps a lot as well.  Mentees should always keep their goal in mind and strive to give their all to reach it.

  1.    Curiosity will not kill this cat

Mentors are willing to share their knowledge.  A lot of times they will provide it based solely on what they see.  Mentees must be curious and ask questions to get as much of it as possible.  Mentor advice can only go so far.  A protégé needs to make well thought queries that will allow him or her to take as much advantage of the mentor’s vast experience.

  1.    Honesty

Mentees have to be upfront with everything going on with their endeavor.  A mentor cannot guide them along the right path unless they have all the information.  Trust is a two-way street, so mentors must also be completely honest.  This could be the make or break trait in a mentor-mentee relationship.  If both sides are honest with each other, it should grow into something productive.  If not, the relationship will surely come to an end sooner or later.

  1.    Gratitude

Yes, mentors are there two ensure a protégé gets ahead in life and that a project is successful.  And yes, some could even say it’s their responsibility.  Gratitude will take you places and it something that mentors appreciate greatly.  Acknowledging and saying thanks to a mentor for his or her efforts, time, advice, and knowledge builds a better, more trustworthy and long lasting relationship between a mentor and a student that will reap benefits for years to come.

A mentor choosing the most suitable mentee is just as important as a mentee picking a mentor.  Knowing what a mentor wants out of a future protégé can be really useful to ensure that a mentor-mentee relationship starts off on the right foot.


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