A mentor can be a valuable guide to a successful career. The relationship is a personal one. To be effective, you need to choose a mentor carefully. Here are the qualities I suggest you look for.
Choose a Mentor
- Chemistry – The first consideration when looking for a mentor is personality fit. Do you have shared interests with this person? Do you communicate easily?
- Competency – Choose mentors that are the most qualified people you can find and invite them to pour their knowledge into you. Don’t worry about finding everything you need in one person. Currently, I have mentors for four areas of my life — professional, educational, spiritual, and physical.
- Humility – Choose a coach who is humble and willing to share his/her failures. Vulnerabilities provide valuable lessons and illustrate how new paths can be forged. The right mentor will want you to learn from his/her failures.
- Discernment – Look for specific characteristics when choosing a mentor. In Multipliers, Liz Wiseman offers this insight on discerning leaders: “The right counselor is considered to possess wisdom and be of good judgement; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others.”
- Trust – People don’t share with someone they can’t trust. A good advisor understands that confidentiality is paramount in his role as a teacher and coach. Make sure this is clear.
- Mutual benefit – Helping others in a mentor relationship brings unexpected mutual benefits like joy and motivation. The late Zig Ziglar said: “You can get anything out of life if you just help enough others get what they want out of life.”
- Availability – Be flexible with your time. Work within your mentor’s schedule, not yours. Know the direction you hope to be taking, including your goals for the next twelve months. Have your questions ready.
The respected expert for you
The most successful people are always looking for someone who can make them even better. Choose a mentor who is enthusiastic, a good personalityfit, considerate of others, and a respected expert in their field.