qualities to look in a mentor

Truth be told, no one succeeds all by their lonesome. Behind every successful man and woman, there had been many who have helped them to become who they are.

In addition to family and friends who championed them on their journey, there likely to be several people who have supported and/or contributed to their achievements.

In fact, you’d be interested to know that according to an executive coaching survey done by Stanford, 80% of CEOs shared they’ve had some sort of mentorship throughout their careers. While another research found that 93% of startups believe that mentorship is instrumental to achieving success.

Personally, I consider myself blessed to have had a handful of mentors throughout my life.

Without their generosity in sharing their knowledge, skills, and experience, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be who I am today – and for that, I’m truly grateful.

Drawing from my own experience, here are the five top qualities that I believe every great mentor should have:

1. The ability to give constructive feedback

give constructive feedback

While it’s true that feedback has a bad rep for being negative,  as long as you’re able to weed out those that are constructive and those that you should ignore, feedback can actually act as a catalyst to your growth.

A part of being a great mentor is the ability to offer constructive feedback and be a sounding board to their mentees. The feedback are intended to help others progress and improve. A good mentor take pleasure in seeing others succeed as much as they  enjoy their own success.

That said, they also understand that everyone learns at their own pace and that mentoring takes patience. Hence, when giving feedback, they do not force their expectations or opinions to their mentees.

2. The willingness to share knowledge & wisdom

If you consider someone to potentially be a great mentor, chances are, they already have a full plate.

Even so, if they’re willing and accept to take you ‘under their wing’, they will not take this relationship lightly.

After all, they know that their time & effort are valuable and will do what they can to ensure what they are able to help you to accomplish your goals during your mentorship sessions.

A big part of this, of course, includes sharing the lessons and wisdom they’ve learned in their own journey to success with you.

3. A positive mindset

As a self-professed ‘relentless optimist’, it may come to no surprise that positivity is something that I consider a must in a mentor.

Even if you’re not a glass half full kind of person, know that energy is contagious.  Hence, it’s certainly in your best interest to look for a mentor who has a positive outlook and is passionate.

He or she should be someone who encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and keep believing in you – even in moments where you don’t believe in yourself.

4. The ability to set boundaries

Though they do believe the mentor – mentee relationship to be ‘sacred’, great mentors also have the ability to effectively set healthy boundaries.

They make sure that mentees do not become co-dependent and rely on them as a crutch.

Instead, they empower their mentees by giving them the space to make mistakes  which enables them to learn valuable lessons through their own experiences.

5. The commitment to walk their talk

If I were only give a single piece of advice, it most likely be ‘don’t judge people on their appearance or what they say, judge them by what they do.’ This also happens to apply perfectly when it comes to seeking a mentor.

A great mentor understands that their each of their actions has an impact and that its essential for them to lead by example.

Choosing the right mentor is crucial in shaping your future, both professionally and personally, so be sure to take your time. Observe their behavior and habits to evaluate whether they match what they ‘preach’.

If the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ and they happen to tick the other four characteristics I had shared above, perhaps it’s time to take the leap of faith and ask them to become your mentor! 

Need some more guidance & support? Working with a life coach can help you to clarify & find your ideal mentor.