“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg
Great mentors are rare. The best can genuinely advance a person’s career. Whether you aspire to be a mentor or want to improve, here are six things every mentor should do:
1. Be a positive role model. Your ethical and professional behavior will leave a strong impression on your mentee, as does your attitude toward your work. Give your mentee a window into your life by introducing them to your network or inviting them to watch you deliver a presentation. Inspire them to your success and always remain positive even during adversity.
2. Teach don’t tell. If you provide the solution to every problem your mentee encounters, they will never learn. Resist giving away the answer and instead offer them the tools to find it.
3. Listen. Great mentors understand the need for their mentee to share with them. Listen to their concerns, challenges, fears, grand plans, and opportunities without interruption.
4. Give appropriate feedback. Setbacks occur in every person’s career. It’s the necessary experience they will come to face. At this point you will need to provide the right balance of listening, reassuring, offering advice and a dose of reality. Great mentors will tell him or her what no one else will.
5. Be vulnerable. Most mentees see their mentor as a person who is immune from career failure. Share a story of a personal struggle and how you overcame it. Offering insight into your past setbacks will encourage your mentee to see you as a comrade who understands their journey.
6. Let them stumble. As difficult as it can be, a great mentor knows that resiliency is a life skill successful people need. Let them fall, struggle and rise again. Tough moments generate valuable lessons. Resist the urge to protect them so they can deal with future roadblocks with confidence rather than fear.
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