What makes a good mentor?

As founder of The Mentor Project, I’ve spoken with nearly 100 mentors, from informal mentors such as grandparents, artists, athletes, and step-parents to formal mentors like judges, physicians, military leaders, and techies. With the diversity of mentoring opportunities available, is there really an ideal way to mentor? The answer is…Yes.

Here are 3 tips for good mentoring:

1. Communication – In order to mentor others, you must be able to have a dialogue. Really good mentors listen to their mentee and communicate regularly. Good mentors create a “safe” environment for the mentee to talk with about work concerns, questions, and ideas. Note: mentors aren’t therapists, rather they are a trusted ear and sounding board. The mentor – mentee relationship is a two way street and just with any good relationship, communication is critical for making it develop and work for long term. Author and Rabbi Niles Goldstein summed this one up well. Have a Dialogical Experience.

2. Set Goals – A mentor isn’t just lending an ear and providing advice. A good mentor works with the mentee to set goals and work to achieve them. No matter how big or small, setting goals is crucial for moving forward and growing. Retired Colonel Joseph Shusko summed this one up well. Set Goals and Achieve Them. After all, you can’t achieve a goal without setting one.

3. Guide – A boss tells people what to do. A mentor guides, teaches and passes on knowledge, skills, values and culture. Belle Frank, Chief Creative Officer, Y&R summed this up well. It’s Not About Telling People What to Do.

To sum it up, whether you are a grandparent, senior executive, lawyer, artist or athlete, mentoring others is about the relationship. Communication, goals and guidance are the key ingredients for great mentoring!

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