Mentoring relationships come in all shapes in sizes, like we have discussed before here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, and that means that while no two mentorships are alike there are some common factors they share in order to be successful. With that being said, it is important to also understand that not all mentoring relationships are as successful as others and that there are mentors who truly make a difference when compared to their peers.
It is an honor to be chosen to be someone’s mentor. There is a lot that goes into that responsibility and those who truly care never take it lightly. A mentor is a highly influential figure in someone else’s life and the support they give is extremely valuable and important in helping their protégées get ahead and reach their full potential.
Understanding the full potential of a mentor and the immense responsibility it carries with to fill those shoes in someone’s life can be daunting and overwhelming, and accepting that fact is the first step that proves that you will make a difference as a mentor; the trepidation for fear of getting it wrong.
Mentoring isn’t easy and being great at it is even more difficult. A great part of it has to do with a correct match between mentor and mentee and the idea that each one of the parties involved in able and willing to give the partnership their best and contribute with everything they can. However, even a great match up is only part of the issue, there are many things that mentees just like mentors must bring to the table and contribute to the partnership in order to not just to succeed but also to stand apart from the rest. Helping others may be easier than you think, but creating a truly lasting difference takes a lot of hard work.
One of the first things to consider is the fact that great mentors are involved and take real actions towards the evolution of their mentees. Mentors who care about the people under their wing and about doing a great job at mentoring are known for taking risks and getting their hands dirty when it’s time to get the job done. Anyone can talk about great mentoring, but only a few can back those words with real meaningful actions and that is one of the most important things that make a great mentor.
A great mentor doesn’t just solve situations for their mentees; they actually find ways to challenge them and help them believe in their own abilities and their capacity to get ahead and figure things out on their own. A person who pushes you is a person who is in a way forcing you into a situation that will help you find the better side of you and polish your skills to be better or even find skills you didn’t even know you had.
A great mentor is real. Mentors do not pretend to know everything as they are well aware of their own shortcomings and will help their mentees utilize the experience they have accrued over the years. It is a reality that you may not be able to learn from other people’s mistake, but it is worth a try and going against that approach pretty much negates the entire point of having a mentor. Experience has its good and its bad sides and you must embrace both of them in order to truly learn. A great mentor will not simply sit there and tell you stories about their glory or show you how successful they are. A mentor who cares is someone who sees the value in defeats just as they see it in victories, especially when it comes to their own experiences.
A great mentor knows how to communicate. Body language and nonverbal queues are ways great leaders and especially mentors must dominate in order to communicate efficiently. Your job as a mentor is that of guiding, advising and inspiring and that is why you must learn to be an effective communicator and someone with high emotional intelligence. These skills are not just great for mentoring, but also for any type of leader and for someone who is trying to advance their career like is the case with mentees who seek a mentor’s help. Being a great example of an emotionally intelligent individual is a great way to pass down those skills.
To sum up, a great mentor is a person who understands the importance of teamwork and communication in a relationship as important and influential as mentorships are. They are dedicated, patient, firm and inquisitive about their mentees and their journey and understand overall the importance of allowing people to grow by giving them a chance to shine and not withholding the experiences that have made them who they are today, even if those experiences aren’t always pleasant.