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.

Mentors who have made their mentees become successful

Brilliant people have become successful thanks to someone else’s guidance. In some cases, good ideas need good mentors or advisors to come true. The following list present to you 4 couple of mentors and their mentees who have changed the world.

Plato mentor to Aristotle

"Aristoteles"
Image courtesy of Fondo Antiguo de la Biblioteca de la Universidad de Sevilla at Flickr.com

Plato became the primary Greek philosopher based on his ties to Socrates and Aristotle and the presence of his works, which were used until his academy closed in 529 A.D.His works were then copied throughout Europe. For centuries, classical education assigned Plato’s works as required reading, and The Republic was the premier work on political theory until the 19th century, admired not only for its views, but also for its elegant prose. Plato’s most famous students was Aristotle.

Aristotle’s works became the basis for the both religion and science, especially through the Middle Ages. In religion, Aristotelian ethics were the basis for St. Thomas Aquinas’ works that forged Christian thought on free will and the role of virtue. Aristotle’s scientific observations were considered the last word in knowledge until about the 16th century, when Renaissance thought challenged and eventually replaced much of it. Even so, Aristotle’s empirical approach based on observation, hypothesis and direct experience (experimentation) is at least part of the basis for scientific activity in nearly every field of study.

Larry Page/Sergey Brin mentor to Marissa Mayer

The current CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer has in essence been mentored by the founders of one of the largest multinational corporations in the world, Google. Sergey Brin at Stanford University and Larry Page at Google guided Marissa Mayer into the labyrinth of the technological world and thus, provided her with the impetus to go beyond the mere visions of achievement. Today she stands at the helm of another mammoth organization, which in essence is Google’s immediate competitor.

The relationship shared by the above mentioned technology whizzes was a professional one, wherein the brilliance of the creators of Google was shared and insightful techniques to deal with particularly important issues may have been discussed. The knowledge sharing given by mentors of high intelligence is the basis for successful career paths.

Dr. Ed Roberts mentor to Bill Gates

Ed Robert founded the Society MITS (Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems) in Albuquerque and sold MITS in 1977 to become a general practitioner in Georgia. The Altair 8800 was the first personal computer which could be programmed to do many tasks. The interesting connection between Dr. Henry Edwared Roberts and Bill Gates was Dr.H did not continue his journey in computing field but moved back to Georgia and became a doctor after that, while Bill Gates was continuing his ambitions and history proved that Bill Gates’s success in computing field. However, as mentioned by Bill Gates and Paul G.Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) in a joint statement, both of them were saddened by the death of “our friend and early mentor”. Thanks to Dr. Ed Roberts, Bill Gates and Paul Allen could install basic programming language. This program ran on  Altair 8800 computer , which brought billions of  of wealth to Bill Gates and his partner, Paul Allen. Altair Basic worked on Altair 8800 computer was the beginning of Microsoft -the world’s largest software company.

Robert Friedland mentor to Steve Jobs

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Image courtesy of Detroity2k at Flickr.com

Jobs was looking to sell his typewriter and walked in on the otherwise occupied couple. Jobs left, apologetic, but Friedland urged him to stay and the two became fast friends. Friedland had ended up at Reed College with Steve Jobs under wildly unusual circumstances. He traveled to India to study under the guru Neem Karoli

Baba. His spiritual attitudes had a huge effect on young Steve Jobs. Jobs said “He turned me onto a different level of consciousness”.

The mentor in this case had pulled his mentee out of his shell and turned him into a more open and extrovert personality. Daniel Kottke was friends with both Jobs and Friedland at the time. He said, “Robert was very much an outgoing, charismatic guy, a real salesman. When I first met Steve he was shy and self-effacing, a very private guy. I think Robert taught him a lot about selling, about coming out of his shell, of opening up and taking charge of a situation.” Steve Jobs was essentially an open minded thinker and thus this tryst with Friedland allowed him to express his brilliant ideas openly and without hesitation. The world is now thankful to the fact that Steve Jobs became what he was, thus underlining the importance of a mentor in someone’s life.