How to be a good mentor
Editor’s Note: Quint Studer is the author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America.” He will speak in Elkins on March 5. The Inter-Mountain will publish a column by Studer each Saturday leading up to his local appearance.
This week I’ll discuss what it takes to be a valuable mentor. There are many people in the local community who are proven and capable mentors. They are invaluable to one of the area’s most vital economic engines: small business.
Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton coined the term “super mentors” in his book “The Coming Jobs War.”
Every community has people who can be super mentors. If you are looking for a mentor, do some research. Then, list three to five people who may fit what can help you most. After that, just ask. You’ll be surprised how many would say yes.
There could be good reasons for some to say “no” like family, health, etc. Many will be surprised you asked them because they may be selling themselves short on the impact they are making and the impact they could have on a mentee.
So, when you’re meeting with your mentor, or if you are just thinking about finding a mentor who can help you, these are some great benchmarks. For mentors, these can be strong guidelines to be sure you’re giving your mentee your best.
1. Mentors should be willing to share their knowledge, expertise, and skills. They understand where the mentee is, they relate to the time when they were there themselves, they show sincerity and freely give away what they have learned. Mentors are not afraid of giving away what has helped them be successful.
2. Mentors walk the talk. They demonstrate the same behaviors they are teaching. These include things like the fact that the mentor may still not be where they want to be. Mentors are human and not perfect. It is not fair to mentors or mentees for the mentor to be put on a pedestal.
3. Mentors care. They take the role of a mentor seriously. They’re like a guide on a mountain climb: They want to make sure the tools and skills are in place. They are committed to the mentee’s success.
4. They are positive. The mentee can feel the enthusiasm of the mentor, both spoken and unspoken. Mentors are cup half-full people who help the mentee see the opportunities when facing obstacles.
5. Mentors do not see themselves as finished products. They have committed themselves to ongoing learning. A good mentor admits when they are still learning in the mentor/mentee relationship. They will often learn right along with the mentee.
6. Mentors help the mentee hold up the mirror and provide constructive feedback and guidance. Mentors help the mentee leverage their strengths. A mentor will also benefit from the learnings as it will help them hold up their own mirror.
7. Mentors have done it and/or are doing it. They are respected in their organizations and the community.
8. Mentors teach from experience. A good mentor does not ask a mentee to take steps they did not take. They share their own self-awareness and development plan and their own goals.
9. Good mentors help the mentee find other mentors. A mentor will have gaps, but due to their experience and network, they can connect the mentee with other resources.
10. A good mentor shows they care. They explain that even when feedback is not positive, it is because they care and are committed to the mentee’s success. They connect to the why.
— Quint Studer is author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America and Wall Street Journal bestseller The Busy Leader’s Handbook: How to Lead People and Places That Thrive.
He is founder of Pensacola’s Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the community’s quality of life, and Vibrant Community Partners, which coaches communities in building out a blueprint for achieving growth and excellence. He is a businessman, a visionary, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to many. He currently serves as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of West Florida.
For more information please visit www.thebusyleadershandbook.com, www.vibrantcommunityblueprint.com and www.studeri.org.