Three Ways to Be an Effective Mentor
In spite of their tight bandwidth, many leaders actively seek ways to carve out time to give back in their profession and for the greater good of the world. One way they do this is through mentoring others. This can be an incredibly rewarding, rich experience for both parties involved. Mentoring is about helping others achieve their potential, goals and dreams. It’s also about imparting vital knowledge that can help others for generations to come. The best mentors know mentoring matters and take this opportunity seriously—just as seriously as they might other responsibilities that align with their vision of effective leadership. If you’re mentoring someone right now or are considering it in the near future, here’s how you can make the most impact.
Three tips for successful mentoring:
1. Be Selective About Whom You Mentor
You want this to be rewarding for both of you. Keep your eyes peeled for someone who can prosper from your guidance. This could be a co-worker, direct report or someone else within your organization or beyond it. If you know someone is struggling professionally or who has potential to do greater things with his or her career, reach out and offer coaching. Make sure the person you mentor is committed to improving. You can then help this person polish their potential, so they are better positioned to shine.
2. Be Disciplined About This Activity
Mentorship is a partnership, a collaborative process in which you’re advancing mutual interests. You want to feel like you’re making a difference; the individual you mentor wants to reach a goal, too. Come to your meetings with that mindset. Don’t just show up. Be responsible, prepared, organized and goal-oriented when you meet and work with this person. Expect the person you’re helping to do the same, too. It works both ways.
3. Listen And Ask The Right Questions
Your role here is to coach and guide this person, not to tell them how to do every aspect of their jobs better or right. If you’re listening and asking great questions, you’ll be a more effective coach. Use your listening skills and dig deep to surface insights into this individual’s challenges and needs. Get the full picture of the situation or issue, then notice opportunities to strategically impart your wisdom and give advice. For example, if the person you’re coaching is struggling with a boss, share your past experiences by explaining how you worked toward a solution versus simply telling them what to do. Also, it’s a fact that in many cases people tend to enjoy education and learn better through stories as opposed to simply being told what to do or how to do it. They’ll be more likely to remember the lesson behind your story. When you do something that has greater impact, you’re making the best use of your collective time and efforts together. And with any mentoring you do, that should be one of your vital goals!
When have you benefited from a mentor? How did that impact you?