5 Attributes of a Successful Mentor

By Natanya Rutstein

Today’s blog is the first in a series on mentorship in which I hope to delve into some of the fundamental components impacting on the mentoring relationship.

Without realising it my 12-year old son recently signed-up for an onboarding mentorship programme at school. He is what is known as a “Care Bear” (mentor) and has been assigned a grade one pupil as his “Cub” (mentee). His mentoring role is to guide and orientate his Cub through the trials and tribulations of the first term of Primary School. Which is no doubt a daunting experience for a six-year old! Now this got me thinking about what it takes to be a successful mentor – the characteristics, skills and habits – and how I can guide my son in his present role as a Care Bear as well as a potential future mentor to others.

Choosing the right mentors to participate in your formal corporate mentorship programme is vital to the success of the mentoring relationship as well as the strategic impact of the mentorship programme on organisational performance. Here are some tips on what to look out for when considering potential mentors for your formal mentorship programme. A successful mentor should be:

  1. A good communicator

Successful mentors should demonstrate both strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills. The mentoring relationship involves a substantial amount of time spent talking and listening to one another. As such, the mentor must partake in active listening by way of note taking, asking questions and paraphrasing. The ability to interpret body language is also important to understanding the true intentions and meaning behind what the mentee is attempting to communicate.

  • Committed to the process

Good mentors do not take their roles lightly. They are acutely aware of the time, effort and structured process required to make the relationship a success. They possess a genuine desire to assist the mentee in finding success and fulfilment in their chosen role.

  • An inspiring motivator

A great mentor should provide the mentee with challenging goals, experiences and assignments and inspire the mentee to achieve his/her full potential, especially when the going gets tough.

  • Experienced

The mentor should have considerable experience and expert knowledge in the mentee’s chosen field. The mentor must also be willing to share this experience and professional knowledge in order to facilitate the mentee’s future growth and development.

  • A life-long learner with a growth mindset

Successful mentors are committed to their own continual self-growth and development and are constantly updating their expert knowledge. They are receptive to trying new and creative approaches to achieving desired goals and objectives. They do not view mistakes as failures but rather opportunities to grow and learn and part of the journey to achieving their goals.

Although the presence of the above attributes will no doubt contribute towards the success of the mentoring relationship, there are also many mentoring skills which can be learned and developed in order to ensure the successful creation of a productive and rewarding mentoring relationship.

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