No one is a successful mentor right out of the gate. Like anything else worth doing, being a successful mentor takes time, dedication, and sticktoitiveness. It also takes a little know-how, which is why it’s important to read up on all of the keys to being a successful mentor.
Some of the keys might surprise you. If you’ve never mentored anyone before (and even if you have), they might even go against your natural instincts as a leader. Regardless, these keys to success are tried and true methods for fostering and growing a deeply impactful mentor-mentee relationship.
Share Your Failures as Much as Your Successes
It’s always uncomfortable to talk about failure, and it’s especially counterintuitive when you’re a mentor. But, if you want to be the best mentor you can possibly be, you have to push past that awkwardness.
Think about all of the most influential people in your life. Were they perfect? Probably not by any stretch of the imagination. Even still, they were great mentors—not because they were flawless, but because they did amazing things in spite of their fallibility.
Letting your mentor in on your failures will help them to better see themselves in your successes.
Understand Where Your Mentee is Coming From
…And where they want to go.
One of the most important tasks that mentors take on is meeting their mentees where they are. If you can’t understand their perspective, then you won’t be able to help them shift it to see new possibilities.
To be the best mentor, you have to understand where your mentee is coming from—as well as where they see themselves heading over the next two to five years. You wouldn’t plan a road trip without knowing what Point A and Point B are, so then why would you enter into a mentorship situation without having a similar plan and understanding?
Listen to Learn
In order to get to that point of understanding, though, you need to listen. Unfortunately, most people listen to respond, instead of listening to learn.
As a mentor, you have to be willing and able to listen to your mentee and really hear them. Try as hard as you can not to filter their words through your own experience—and who knows? Maybe you’ll learn a thing or two from them about life.
Again, the most successful mentors are those that aren’t afraid to expose their failures, understand where their mentees are coming from, and listen to gain that understanding.