Defining Good Mentorship Qualities
Good mentorship qualities can have a resounding effect on our professional success than anything else we will encounter in our careers. 76% of people think mentors are important, but only 37% have one. Based on this stat, many of us should probably be working to find a mentor. As you look to find yourself a mentor, keep in mind the qualities that go into a positive mentor-mentee relationship.
Putting Mentorship into Perspective
People can have different ideas for mentorship. For me, a mentor is both a guide and a cheerleader. A mentor is a guide by helping you draw out the roadmap that is your career and life. One day they provide perspective to your biggest questions. Another day they give invaluable advice. Or alternatively, they open new doors with important introductions.
Additionally, they are cheerleaders along your journey. They understand what makes you unique, and they are vital in helping you grow to your greatest potential. They know your weaknesses and how to lift you up when facing challenges.
Qualities of a Good Mentor
So what mentorship qualities have the highest positive impacts on mentees. To understand the role a mentor plays, we need to know what to look for when finding a mentor. What qualities allow a mentor to be a positive force in our lives and how do they fit into our career goals?
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Mentorship Quality #1: Honesty
This might seem obvious, but mentors aren’t always here to tell us what we want to hear. Growth involves strong reflection and, sometimes, some tough love. The last thing you need from a mentor is a yes man/woman. Sometimes a mentor’s perspective can be tough, but better than learning it the hard way in the real world. Mentors’ value comes in their ability to leverage their experience to provide a perspective valuable to us in meeting our goals. A mentorship relationship without honesty is doomed from the start.
Mentorship Quality #2: Boundaries
Boundaries are easily among the most important mentorship qualities. A good mentor knows when to be present and when to make way for their mentee. For example, making a valuable professional introduction but not dominating the initial conversation. A mentor’s primary goal is to provide a perspective on the evolving goals of our mentees. The mentee does not exist in the image, instead, the mentor serves as an invaluable asset to the mentee in meeting their goals. Boundaries involve practicing listening, empathy, and selflessness.
A lifelong mentorship relationship will traverse many life and career pivots. Boundaries are what allow mentors and mentees to remain positive influences in each other’s lives over years and even decades.
Mentorship Quality #3: Vulnerability
Vulnerability is a byproduct of a mentor who listens and gives more. It’s not uncommon for mentors to assume the needs of their mentees and overenthusiastically hijack the relationship. This is all done with the best intentions, but it can be detrimental to the relationship.
Vulnerability indicates a level of deeper understanding between mentors and mentees and a genuine investment in the relationship. It means the mentee has been empowered to share their most ambitious goals and deepest fears. It also likely means the mentor is comfortable sharing their worst shortcomings to convey an important point. It is the foundation of trust in a genuine business relationship.
Do You Need a Mentor?
What mentorship qualities are most important to you? What has a mentor meant to your career? What tools, advice, or guidance from your mentor have helped shape your life? How did you go about finding and choosing a mentor? How did you keep your mentor/mentee relationship strong over the years?
Whether you are looking for a mentor or have had a mentor for several decades, let us know in the comments! Your experience is bound to help someone in need of a mentor in their personal and professional lives!
Becoming More Supportive
We all need a support system. It could be an addict leveraging support via the AA community, or it could be a friend who simply needs someone to vent to. Support can be actionable advice or a physical embrace. So how do we become more supportive people the right way, for the right people, in the right moments? There are as many ways to be supportive as there are people in the world, as every situation calls for a different kind of support. Still, there are a few universal truths.
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Lead With Empathy
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. I can think of no better skill that equips us to show the right situational support to those that need it. There are layers to empathy. Empathy manifests itself differently at different times. It means leaving your opinions at the door and being an active listener. It’s about knowing what kind of advice someone needs during their time of need. It means maintaining eye contact, asking for clarification, and staying on topic. It also means acknowledging their feelings. Validating someone’s experiences and establishing yourself as a reliable source of support.
Being There but Having Boundaries
Reach out proactively to those you know who need support. If something reminds you of their situation or problem, share your thoughts with them. Let them know you’re thinking about them even if they haven’t reached out to you specifically. While proactivity and involvement are forms of support, be mindful of having the right boundaries.
Boundaries help establish the right standard. They help those in need of support because they can better understand when and how to solicit your support. This also helps you deliver on their expectations when they need your support.
This also includes not making promises you can’t keep. Boundaries help you avoid the discomfort that could lead you to give unfulfilled promises. Boundaries also help us avoid giving empty advice that is slightly disingenuous or unhelpful.
Being Consistent and Delivering
We’ve all extended the classic “how can I help?” support to a friend in need. With that said, this is a classic example of not delivering. You mean well but sometimes; this offer of support can inadvertently put more burden on the individual in need of your support. As you practice active listening and empathy while sticking to your boundaries, you can take a full inventory of the situation and offer tangible, actionable support. There is value in simply letting someone know you are there for them. However, your ability to proactively recognize and act can be life-changing for those you are trying to offer support.
Building Better Relationships
Support is a foundational piece of meaningful relationships. This means honest and reliable support. A combination of empathy, boundaries and proactive thoughtfulness make a recipe for being a good source of support for those in your life that need you.
Do you sometimes worry you could be more supportive? Maybe you feel your support efforts are ineffective or go unnoticed. What do you think is vital to being a truly supportive and helpful figure in the lives of those around you? Let us know in the comments!