In the second of our two-part series, we look at the skills needed to succeed as a mentor. What attributes do you need to be a top teacher in the business world?
There are many parallels between teaching in the classroom and serving as a mentor in your organisation. Being an expert in your particular niche is important, so whether you’re a HR, Legal or Finance professional you’ll have a total mastery of your subject. You’ll know what it’s taken to get to the top of your profession, the mistakes to avoid as well as the challenges and opportunitites of your industry.
Hard & Soft Skills
As well as the technical disciplinary skills honed over many years of practice, mentors will also have built an impressive arsenal of interpersonal skills. Collaboration and positivity are just two of these qualities and the mentor will be able to draw on his or her experience to guide the individual that they’re helping
“coaching rather than fixing and providing sincere, specific and ongoing feedback about their strengths and challenges,” explains leadership expert, Jill Geisler.
Mentors who come from another disciplinary background to yours can be of even greater value, not just because of the skills they have in their field, but because they can help you see things from another perspective. For example, if you’re working in marketing, you might be paired up with someone in legal or HR. As well as giving you that fresh lens, they can really make a difference to your career progress especially if they have had several different roles.
Commitment and consideration
The person who is being mentored must however have a clear plan to addresses each goal. Dr. Cindy Wahler, a psychologist and leading executive coach, has this advice for mentors,
“The mentee should drive the process. Explore their achievements, areas they hope mentoring will address and discuss their overall career aspirations. Determine if you are comfortable and discuss timeline frequency and mutual accountabilities.”
Mentoring though isn’t for everyone as it requires an ongoing commitment that can last for many years. It’s almost an extension of your job, it requires patience, compassion and an ability to listen. It should never be ego-driven or a reason to show off personal achievements. The best mentors are those who are invested in the person’s success, have a genuine passion for people and seeing others fulfil their potential.
Just like the best teachers, mentors will focus on strengths and develop self-belief while providing constructive criticism. As Gary Player, the legendary South African golfer said,
“A mentor doesn’t tell you what you want to hear. A good mentor who is interested in your growth as a human being tells you what you need to hear.”