4 Universal Qualities of a Great Mentor

4 Universal Qualities of a Great Mentor

4 Universal Qualities of a Great Mentor

In business (and in life) we all want to continuously improve, don’t we? Whether this means improving a habit that is already creating results, or changing a behaviour that isn’t. Beyond writing a business plan, one of the fastest ways to create breakthrough results is to find a mentor.

In this post we’ll look at 4 universal qualities of a great mentor.  If you’re looking to become a better mentor or about to start a mentoring program, consider these qualities.

The 4 universal qualities: how to mentor and what to look for

In my experience of mentors who have helped me reach higher levels of performance, these incredible individuals had these 4 universal qualities.

#1. Great mentors have walked the path you want to take

This is usually in a specific skill area, and does not have to be in the same profession. For example, if you want to learn how to coach people, a mentor in this skill could be a professional sports coach. The best mentors are people who are at the top of their game in a specific area.  From the pinnacle of their craft, they look down and see many pathways to the mountain top.

#2.Great mentors listen, then show and rarely tell

The best mentors will leave most of the conversation up to you. They listen to you before talking, assessing where you are and what will help you.

When they do offer you their advice, they rarely tell you specifically what you must do.

The best mentors suggest just enough so you can discover for yourself the actions you could take. They will not give you the the path, because they want you to create it for yourself. They teach sufficiency, not dependency.

#3. Great mentors adjust their message for what you need at that time

The best mentors have enough experience to help you with the challenges and opportunities you face today. They’re constantly monitoring where you are at, and they adjust their message and guidance so its appropriate for your level of skill.

For example, a CEO would not mentor a graduate student in ‘how to run a company’. Rather, the CEO would help the student with the basics first, providing direct experience to the student how to manage people or get to know the business and so on.

The message a great mentor provides is tailored to give guidance for the specific situation faced by the mentee at the time.

#4. Great mentors push you so you can reach your next level

Great mentors help others see the potential of what they could become in the future.  With this potential as inspiration, the mentor directs the energies of the mentee toward the activities needed to reach the next level.

In this way the best mentors challenge others to expand themselves. Sometimes this comes with tough, focused attention on areas needing improvement.

What is a mentor?

These days a lot of lip service is paid to mentoring. Most definitions say a mentor is someone more skilled or experienced who offers support, advice and guidance to help a more junior or less experienced person (“the mentee”) develop and learn.

Beyond this definition a true mentor provides a psychological commitment to the person they’re working with.

This involves trust and a duty of care to help the mentee attain a higher level of performance, provided the mentee fulfills any conditions of the mentorship (eg. works hard, has the right attitude, etc).

Question: What other qualities do you think are valuable for great mentors?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I'm a digital strategist and channel manager with 15 years experience in digital, across marketing, e-commerce, online sales, digital and mobile app strategy. Companies I've worked for include Coles, ANZ and GlaxoSmithKline. I'm also a graduate and previous sessional lecturer of Strategic Foresight at Swinburne University.
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