Mentoring relationships exist throughout history and in pop culture: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, Gandalf and Frodo, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Having someone walk alongside you to inspire, motivate, and challenge you in your life or career is so valuable, but not all mentors are built the same. Here are 10 character traits great mentors have in common.
Great Mentors Are Good Listeners
One of the most critical character traits every mentor should possess is the ability to listen well. Being a good listener is paramount when it comes to mentorship, because in order to provide guidance and wisdom to a mentee, the mentor has to first understand where they’re coming from. This understanding is established through listening.
Great Mentors Respect Your Privacy
Being a mentor is a tremendous privilege and responsibility, so it must be done with discretion. Good mentors know that conversations with their mentee must remain private and confidential. If you don’t think your mentor is respecting your privacy, get a different mentor.
Great Mentors Are Honest
We grow as people when our mentors tell us what we need to hear versus telling us what we want to hear. Mentoring relationships should be built on trust and honesty: you should be able to count on your mentor to tell you the truth, even if it isn’t pretty.
Great Mentors Are Tactful
Speaking of truth, honesty without tact can be hurtful and unhelpful if it’s not delivered in a sensitive manner. So it’s important in mentoring relationships to speak the truth in love. If you’re a mentor yourself, remember that the manner in which you give advice matters. Tact only ever increased the value of words.
Great Mentors Make Themselves Available
There’s nothing worse than a mentor who is too busy for you or who is hard to get a hold of. A good mentor provides you with a reliable means of getting in touch, whether that be email, phone number, or social media handle. While you shouldn’t expect your mentor to be available 24/7, you should be able to count on them to be there when you need them the most.
Great Mentors Challenge You
Great mentors don’t just encourage and support you, they also challenge you to grow. A good mentor understands that, in order to become your best self, you may need to make some changes in your life. They may advise you to break bad habits, take risks, or cut relationships with toxic people. When a good mentor pushes you to work harder or be better, they really do have your best interest at heart and are simply trying to help you reach your goals.
Great Mentors Are Humble
Great mentors are also characterized by their humility. They freely admit they don’t have all the answers and aren’t afraid to say “I don’t know.” When they can’t answer your questions or give you good advice on something, a good mentor points you to resources/people that can.
Great Mentors Are Empathetic
Being able to connect with someone emotionally is another key component to mentoring. Good mentors are empathetic and seek to understand where their mentee is coming from.
Great Mentors Have Experience/Expertise
By its nature, mentorship is when one person with more life experience, business experience, (etc.) shepherds a less experienced individual. If you choose a mentor that doesn’t have experience or expertise in the topics you’ll be discussing with them, it could be frustrating and unproductive. While friendships don’t necessitate one person having more experience than the other, mentoring relationships do.
Prioritizes Their Own Growth
If you’re considering someone for mentorship but aren’t sure whether or not they would be a good fit, ask them about their personal growth journey. Ask if they have ever had a mentor before or have been a mentor to someone else? Chances are if someone prioritizes their own personal growth, they will take your personal growth seriously too.