This is Part 4 of our 10-part series on the 10 Key Qualities and Habits of a Highly Effective Mentor. Read Part 3 here.
We’re covering the 10 unique qualities that make a great mentor, but it’s important to note once again: it’s highly unlikely that your mentor will embody all 10 of these things. Remember: they’re human! And while they might not hit every ball out of the park, their specific strengths will make your mentoring bond stronger.
Without further ado, let’s jump into quality #4: They’re intentional with their time.
1. They invest time and energy purposefully
You only get out what you put in. Being a mentee is not a passive role. When you have a mentor, it’s your job to know your intentions, define your own goals, cultivate the relationship, seek out advice, attend meetings or events you’re invited to, and so on.
On the mentor’s side, practising active listening and being present is important. This means putting the phone away, listening intently, and doing your best not to get distracted when working with your mentee. Try to be in the present moment!
If you’re building multiple, purpose-driven mentoring relationships with several mentors, this will require the commitment of time and energy on both sides. While individuals are rewarded by tapping into a wider net of abilities and skill sets, remember that each individual mentor is passionate and perfectly placed to guide in their particular area of expertise! These multiple perspectives will also expose you to an incredible diversity of thought.
2. They’re prepared and ready
Effective mentors help mentees set an agenda, they keep up with meetings, and if they were meant to bring something along, they do so—it’s only common courtesy!
Being a mentor means making an important, serious commitment to someone, so give your mentee—and the process—the respect he or she deserves. Show your faith in your mentee’s abilities and in the process by preparing for each mentoring session. This isn’t a stream-of-consciousness deal or a “go-ahead-and-pick-my-brain” process, it requires some forethought and planning.
Yes, it’s important for your mentee to actively participate and even take the lead in these sessions. But you should still start by asking your mentee what topics or subjects they want to talk about beforehand, and once you have this information, outline the key points you want to focus on ahead of time and have a plan ready for imparting your details in an effective and expedient way.
3. They follow up
Intentional mentors aren’t the “set it and forget it” type; they should follow up with their mentees to ensure that 1. Mentees understand what’s expected of them when it comes to any tasks or do-outs from a previous meeting, 2. Mentees are progressing at an appropriate rate and/or within the given timeframe, and 3. The mentor can provide any additional guidance or clarification in order to help the mentee meet goals and/or complete assigned tasks.
A mentor’s willingness to follow-up shows their mentee that they’re committed to the mentoring partnership, its success, and the development of the mentee. It also demonstrates their willingness and ability to provide ongoing advice, reaching out even when not scheduled in order to ensure the mentee is fully supported.
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