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What Is A Mentor? Do You Need One?

Posted by Gary Henderson on Feb 26, 2020 5:10:13 PM

If you’ve read Homer's classic tale, The Odyssey, you might be able to recall the famous character 'Mentor.' He was a trustworthy friend of Odysseus, to whom Odysseus entrusted the education of his son Telemachus.

In fact, Mentor acted as a friend and guide to Telemachus and oversaw the Kingdom of Ithaca when Odysseus fought in the Trojan War.

That’s where the word ‘Mentor’ comes from.

But, what exactly is a mentor? And why do you need one?

Read on to find out.

In this article, you’ll learn what a mentor is and what the qualities of a good mentor are.  Plus, you’ll discover a simple 4-step process on how to choose the right mentor for yourself and your business.

What Is A Mentor?

What is the mentoring process?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a mentor is “a prudent and trustworthy instructor or counselor."

Now, a mentor doesn’t always have to be a college professor or somebody who is highly educated.

A mentor is someone who helps a less experienced or a complete novice person by developing trust and demonstrating positive behaviors.

To become an effective mentor, you need to understand that your role is to be reliable, involved, genuine, and tweaked as per the requirements of a mentee.

The act of mentoring includes a series of continuing and little achievements. As a mentor, you can only make a real impression if you focus on steady and continuing relationship development.

The real essence of a productive mentoring relationship lies in how you provide value to the mentee.

However, it’s not a one-way street. Mentoring involves an ongoing conversation that also adds value to the mentor's life and career.

Why Do You Need A Mentor?

So now you know what a mentor is and what an effective mentoring relationship looks like. But why do you need a mentor?

Well, finding the right mentor is a proven recipe for success. It is essential. Period!

This is not only true for your personal or professional development, but your business can also reap a whole lot of benefits when you find the right mentor for your company.

Whether you're just launching a startup or are already running a full-fledged business, learning from somebody more mature, more astute, and more knowledgeable is a precious business prospect.

As you transition into the everyday routine of work-life, you may perhaps lose your sense of direction. And that's where a mentor steps in. He/she can help you retune things so that you may look at your career and development from a new standpoint.

This is why many businesses all over the world have started to recognize the influence of effective mentoring. They are implementing formal mentoring programs to facilitate younger professionals in identifying and gaining support from a more knowledgeable expert working in their industry.

Qualities Of A Good Mentor

mentoring and coaching for successful people

Wondering what sets a ‘good’ mentor apart from the rest?

We’ve compiled a list of 6 qualities that you should look for when choosing a mentor for yourself or your business.

1. They Keep You Accountable

A good mentor helps you keep on track and not lose sight of your ultimate goals by inculcating a sense of accountability in you.

And we all know what accountability does to you and your business.

It reduces the time and energy you spend on disrupting actions and other nonproductive activities.

A mentor makes you feel accountable for your actions so that you effectively learn the value of your work. This way, you can polish your abilities and upturn your confidence.

2. They’re Committed To Helping You Succeed

A good mentor can help uplift both your mind and your career in a manner that cannot be imparted in any institute, meeting room, or on a business tour.

They help you explore careers, set goals, develop connections, and identify resources that you may have overlooked.

A good mentor has just one aim in mind: To help you make the best in everything, no matter what.

They value the mentee as an individual and resist the urge to produce a clone.

3. They Are A Good Listener And Action Taker

A good mentor is also a good listener who listens to what is being said, as well as how it is being said. They are proactive and willing to take action whenever needed.

Plus, they emphasize on the mentee's growth and help you solve your own problems instead of spoon-feeding you.

4. They Have Excellent Communication Skills

A mentor has to guide and offer support to his/her mentee in a series of one-to-one conversations.

But this is only possible if they have excellent communication skills.

A good mentor possesses effective communication skills that help him/her to share personal expertise, knowledge, and experience with the mentee.

5. They Are An Experienced In What You're Trying To Learn

A good mentor is a veteran in your field who can offer long-term guidance about your business.

They have a good idea of whatever you are trying to learn and are familiar with what it takes to progress within your job.

6. They Are Trustworthy

One of the most important qualities that you must look for in a mentor.

A good mentor must be a trusted advisor, somebody that you can count on without worrying about confidentiality.

They cultivate mutual trust and esteem and keep discretion so that you don't hesitate to knock at their door whenever needed.

How To Choose The Right Mentor?

Professional growth from good mentoring

Choosing the right mentor for you and your business can be tricky.

After all, it’s quite challenging to distinguish the genuine mentors from the fake gurus out there, right?

Here’s a simple 4-step process to help you choose the right mentor:

1. Research The Best Mentors

The best way to find a good mentor is to look around and see if your family or friends have mentors.

Ask them about their mentors, seek recommendations, and be willing to do lots of research.

Explore all possible options before you opt for one mentor who seems to fit the bill.

You never know, you might find a good mentor in your neighborhood!

2. Check To See If Your Personalities Are Compatible

Remember, every individual is different, and so are their needs.

Just because your best friend recommended you someone doesn’t mean they’re going to be a great mentor for you.

What worked for them may or may not work for you.

So in this step, carefully determine if your personalities are compatible before you finalize a mentor for your business.

After all, a personality clash can do more harm than good.

What if your mentor turns out to be a micro-manager while you like to work as a free bird?

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3. Find An Expert 

Let’s quickly go back to why you needed a mentor in the first place. To help you perform better and achieve superior results, right?

That’s only possible if your mentor is an expert at what you do (or are trying to do).

So look for somebody who is far more experienced in your domain so that you can make the best use of their knowledge, skills, and experience.

4. Do A Trial Run To See If You Work Well Together 

Think you’ve found an expert?

The last step is to do a trial run, which is basically for both the mentor and the mentee. 

It helps you analyze if both parties enjoy working together and whether or not you should continue the mentoring relationship.

So, how do you do a trial run?

Brainstorm with your chosen mentor to see if you both are on the same page. Look for ways that can help both of you in driving and maintaining your relationship.

But here’s a caveat…

While the mentor devotes their time to assist you, you must also contribute and keenly pursue learning.

Don’t think it’s going to work? No worries! Both of you part ways without any awkwardness.

Wrapping Up

The key to a strong and trusting mentoring relationship lies in an effective communication.

When people (or businesses) are struggling to find success, they often bank on their mentors to show the way and communicate to them their experience, wisdom, and skills.

Think of mentoring as an ongoing process, not a destination. Appreciate the process and look for support from a trusted mentor whenever needed.

In this article, we discussed 6 qualities of a good mentor. If you find a mentor enriched with these qualities, be assured that they are going to make a difference in your life, and you will perhaps experience more benefits than you can visualize.

But there's just one condition…

You, the mentee, must be open to receiving your mentor’s feedback whether or not it's positive.

Don’t be apprehensive about hearing candid advice or criticisms. Make yourself a good listener, taking what you can utilize, and leaving the rest.

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