What Is A Mentor?
A Comprehensive Guide
What is a mentor and why do you need one? A mentor is someone who can guide and help you achieve your goals. Mentors know when to push, motivate, and let you reign free.
You need one to consult on decisions, help you when you are confused and indecisive, keep you when you are distracted.
A good mentor can amplify your vision, elevate your skills and self-confidence, and help you achieve your goals at a much faster time. Don’t you want someone looking outside the box to guide you?
In this study guide, you will learn about what is a mentor, the concept of mentoring, the roles they play, what to expect, and other factors that make a good mentor. We will look at things both from a mentee’s perspective and from the point of view of the mentor or an inspiring mentor.
What is a Mentor: Looking at it from Mentee’s Perspective
As someone in search of a mentor, you should set your expectations right. A mentor is a guide to success, he is not responsible for your success.
What is the Role of A Mentor: The Dos and Don’ts
It is important to have a clear picture of what a mentor does and does not. Set your expectations right before jumping into one.
What is A Mentor: What They Do:
- Mentors take your vision, not theirs, seriously.
- They help you paint a clear picture of your long-term and short-term goals.
- They make time for you.
- They help you set the bar high.
- They inspire.
- Introduce you to contacts and widen your connection.
- They Support.
- They share their knowledge and life experiences.
- They provide guidance and advice.
- They help you strategize and plan to achieve your goals.
- They help develop your leadership skills.
- Guide you to the corporate culture.
- Help provide exposure and visibility in the corporate world or the industry.
- Develop strong values both for personal and professional development.
- They remind you when you get distracted.
- Help you make hard decisions.
- Give you tips and insights.
- Help you navigate your career or life in general.
- Develop mutual trust and respect.
- Maintain confidentiality.
- Focus on your development, not make a clone of themselves.
- They are open to communication all the time.
- Improve culture.
- Increase confidence.
- Increase the chances of a promotion.
What is A Mentor: What They Don’t Do:
- They don’t push their personal agenda on you.
- They help you achieve your goals, they are not responsible for it. Your success is your responsibility.
- They don’t take credit for your ideas, achievements, and success.
- They don’t slow down your progress.
- They don’t let you repeat the same mistakes.
- Your mentor is not your therapist. They may advise on both professional and personal situations but do not treat them like a shrink. If you need a therapist, get one.
- Your mentor is not the solution to your problem or challenges, they help you find solutions instead.
- Mentors do not take over. Do not expect your mentors to do the job you should be doing.
- They do not force you to go in a specific direction. They will guide you to get to where you want to be.
- They do not use undue influence.
- They do not judge or condemn. If you make mistakes, they help you so you will not repeat the same mistakes. They will not judge you. They are not overly critical.
What is a Mentor: Do I need a Mentor or a Coach?
Mentors and coaches share the same skill requirments although their process of teaching and the outcome can be different.
|Length of Relationship||Usually short-term with a specific outcome in mind, Mostly a one-time thing but can be extended.||It tends to be long-term. Usually, one year or two or can be longer.|
|Focus||More formal and performance-driven.||Non-formal and development-driven. Uses both a professional and holistic approach to career development.|
|Structure||Very traditional – scheduled weekly or monthly meetings||Informal meetings (as needed)|
|Goal(s)||Set by both Coach and Coachee||Set by Mentee with the Mentor’s support|
|Outcome||Specific, measurable outcome – improvement in performance or achieving a milestone at work.||The overall development of Mentee.|
When to Get a Coach:
- When you need to develop your raw talent into specific skills you can use to advance at work
- Learning new professional skills
- When you are struggling to achieve your goals or not meeting expectations at work
- When you need assistance in large-scale goals like acquisitions and mergers, managing new teams, adapting to new company culture.
- When you are preparing for advancement in the organization.
- When you need short-term lessons like overcoming fear of public speaking or presentations.
- When you need one-on-one coaching for a specific skill instead of joining group training.
When to Get a Mentor:
- When you need to focus on your career or life development in general.
- When you need to improve your professional and general leadership development.
- When you need to explore your career possibilities.
- When you are in-between goals and not sure what to do next.
- When you want to learn and have more experience professionally.
- When you want to broaden your intercultural or cross-cultural ties and connections.
- When you are planning your climb to the corporate ladder.
What is A Mentor: Does Everyone Need One?
Having a mentor is not required but is highly recommended. You should have at least one mentor in your lifetime. Life gets easier when you have someone looking out for you, right?
It is hard to reach your full potential when you do it alone. Success is achieved quicker when you have a support group that is cheering you on and guiding you all throughout the way.
Having a mentor is a great way to soak up wisdom and great life lessons that you can use on your way up.
What is a mentor’s role? A mentor’s help and assistance can be used in all aspects of life. From simple decisions like what car model to get to accepting a new job offer.
Here are some scenarios where one needs a mentor’s guidance:
- When starting a new job – starting a new job is scary especially when you are fresh from college. Having a mentor who can show you the ropes and introduce you to everyone in the office is a must.
- When starting a new investment or business venture – anything that is new or foreign to us is intimidating. A guiding hand is always welcome. You would want someone who has been there, done that, to guide you. You want to pick their brain and soak up on their knowledge and experience.
- When you are confused and indecisive – You don’t want someone else to decide for you, but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to help you focus and figure things out?
- When you need direction in your career – Sometimes we get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily career routine, we sometimes forget where we are heading. A mentor will remind you and keep your focus on your end goals.
- When you are afraid to take risks – No pain, no gain, right? What if you are not the adventurous type? If you love playing it safe, you need someone to push you and nudge you in the right direction so you don’t get stuck in a dead-end job.
- When you lack confidence – In the workplace, even in life, you should move forward with confidence. If you lack confidence and it is affecting your advancement opportunities, getting a mentor is your best move.
What Should I Expect From My Mentor: Setting the Right Expectations
We have discussed what mentors do and do not, above. But they are not set in stone. Mentorship is an informal relationship so it is important to discuss what you expect and your mentor can deliver.
What is a mentor and what should you expect from them? Your expectations can be set by considering your goals, yours and your mentor’s time and schedule, your mentor’s experience, and their current responsibilities.
You must both be clear on what you can do, what you can deliver, your schedule, and many others.
Here are some of the things you can expect from your mentor:
- Gain wisdom from their knowledge, expertise, experience, skills, and values.
- Grow personally and professionally. Increase your EQ, learn to manage your finances, control your emotions in the workplace, and many others.
- Learn new skills that you can use for your advancement.
- Improve in key areas like interpersonal skills, communication, leadership skills, technical abilities, and others.
What Should I Expect from My Mentor: Setting the Right Expectations
Choosing the right mentor is critical. It can be bad as much as it can be good. You need to find someone who will have a genuine interest in you and your success.
What is a Mentor’s best qualities: Some qualities you should look for are:
- Genuine desire to help, guide, and impart knowledge.
- Willingness to share their knowledge, skills, expertise, and life experiences.
- A good role model.
- Positive attitude.
- Takes a personal interest in you and in mentoring in general.
- Experience in the field or industry you are interested in.
- Vast experience and knowledge and still continue to learn.
- Provide constructive feedback.
- Respected by colleagues and people in the same industry and in the community.
- Respects and values the opinion of others.
These are just some of the qualities that will help you how to spot a good mentor.
What Types of Mentors are There and How to Distinguish Which One You Need
Knowing what is a mentor and what type of mentor to look for is important in achieving your goals. It will increase the chances of your mentor-mentee relationship to be a good fit.
1. Traditional Mentor – A traditional mentor fits the mold of the stereotypical mentor. An older, wiser, more experienced, and successful within the company, industry, or community. The classic wise man.
There is nothing wrong with a traditional mentor. After all, wise men come with age, at least most of the time.
2. Reverse Mentor – The total opposite of the traditional mentor but effective just the same. These mentors are much younger than the mentee.
These are mostly the younger, very techie colleagues who are experts in technology and other modern advances.
In the workplace, one needs to keep up with the times or get left behind. Reverse mentors can help you learn and improve your technical skills in the office.
3. Peer Mentor – A peer mentor is someone in more or less the same level position or responsibility as you in your company or in the community.
They can help you learn new skills or knowledge in their specific area of expertise. Or they can be someone who is good at something you are not.
Peer Mentors are easy to approach and can be developed organically within organizations. It can happen when a fellow manager notices you lack confidence in talking in front of a panel and they offer help or you ask them to help you do better.
4. Aspirational Mentor – These are people you look up to. Successful people in the industry, in your community, or big bosses in your company that you idolize.
These can also be popular and successful people that you do not know personally nor interact with, but look up to. These can be authors, famous personalities, etc. who inspire you to work hard and do better.
5. Practical Mentor – A practical mentor is someone you can count on to give you straightforward, no-nonsense advice when you have problems. These mentors do not aim to inspire but to be realistic and practical.
6. Coping Mentor – These are people who are good listeners who can give pragmatic advice that you can use right away to alleviate stress. A coping mentor helps you cope with stress and other problems professionally and personally.
They can offer a safe space to vent and express your frustrations without the fear of being judged and any repercussions at work.
7. Identity Mentor – These are individuals who stand out in a specific identity group. For example:
- Women leaders
- LGBT leaders
- Other successful leaders that belong in a specific group.
You look up to an identity mentor when you want to learn to fit within the group or community. They can also offer advice in dealing with your frustrations or navigating your career as someone who belongs in the same identity group who has more experience than you.
What is A Mentor: A Mentor’s Perspective
Difference between coaching and mentoring: what every mentor needs to know
As a mentor or an aspiring mentor, you need to know the difference between mentoring and coaching. Coaching is a short-term teaching opportunity that is formal and more focused. Mentoring is an informal relationship that is focused on the overall development of an individual.
Coaching can be used as a tool for mentoring. Here are some coaching and mentoring opportunities:
Teaching a subordinate a certain skill set like:
- Public speaking
- Improving interpersonal skills
- Writing better business emails
- How to close a deal
- Improve negotiation skills
- Sales goals
- Learn new skills
All coaching opportunities are mentoring opportunities. Mentorship promotes the betterment of the individual as a whole. That covers one’s career and personal life. Example:
- Money management
- Getting a promotion or reaching a specific position in the company
- Improving EQ
- Bettering relationships with family, friends, co-workers, bosses, etc.
- Preparing mentee for independence
What is A Mentor and what motivates you to be one?
Mentorship is not for everyone. It is a big commitment and a bigger responsibility. You must be an exemplary person to want to be a mentor.
Here are some factors that motivate people on how to be a good mentor:
- Sharing your knowledge
- To inspire
- Meeting new people
- Molding the younger generation into better people and better professionals
- To help, guide and motivate
- To have a wider impact on society
- To offer your perspective and gaining new ones
- To be part of someone’s success
What is a Mentor’s three C’s of mentorship:
A mentor does three major roles to the mentee.
1. Consultant – You are chosen as a mentor mostly because of your knowledge and experience. You act as a consultant when your mentee is making major steps and decisions.
Share your insights. Your mentee picks on your brain and relies on your expertise so they can make better decisions.
2. Counselor – Listen and guide. A mentor does not tell the mentee what to do. You help the mentee figure out what they want and help them do it right.
The mentor’s role is critical in the important decision-making process of the mentee.
You must be your mentee’s number one cheerleader and support system.
What is A Mentor’s Responsibility?
Mentoring is a serious responsibility. Someone’s success is partly your responsibility, It is important that you are clear on what you need to do in this relationship.
- Set time and space for the mentoring sessions.
- Always be prepared for mentoring sessions.
- Communicate thoroughly.
- Give your full attention.
- Share your resources, knowledge, and expertise.
- Be a :
- Champion or Sponsor
- Role Model
What Makes a Mentorship Successful: How Do You Measure Success?
What is a mentor’s measure of success? The best measure for mentoring success if achieving the goals your mentee has set at the beginning of the relationship.
Did they get the promotion they have been aiming for?
Did they become a better sales professional or a better person?
What Would You Measure in Mentoring: A Guide to Success
- Goal completion
- Improvement of Mentees overall development
- New skills acquired
- The overall success of the mentee
What is a Mentor’s four main stages of mentoring?
1. Preparation – this is the discovery phase. This is when you:
- Receive the first contact from your mentee and exchange contact information.
- Get to know each other.
- Talk about developmental and learning goals.
- Set expectations and limitations.
- Defined desired outcome.
- Explore possibilities.
- Setting ground rules and boundaries.
- Setting learning and developmental goals.
- Agree on confidentiality.
- Setting responsibilities.
- Setting schedules for mentoring sessions.
3. Enabling Growth – This is where the actual work happens.
- Providing support to the mentee.
- Guiding, helping, assisting, counseling, cheering, etc.
- Correcting mistakes.
- Adjusting or setting new goals.
4. Coming to Closure – the evaluation stage before ending the mentorship.
- Identifying learning and growth
When Should You End A Mentoring Relationship: Quitting vs Success
There are two reasons mentoring ends – Quitting and Success.
- When you are no longer able to perform your mentor duties.
- When your mentee ends the relationship for whatever reasons.
- When you no longer see eye to eye with your mentee.
- When your mentee has achieved their goals.
- When the mentee has become independent.
- When the mentee is ready to stand on their own.
- When you have completed your role.
What is a mentor’s contribution to the mentee’s success is very significant. Mentorship cannot be underrated. The benefits outweigh the disadvantages. In fact, if the mentoring relationship is a good fit, there is hardly any disadvantage.
The main focus and purpose of mentoring are to help your mentee succeed. Wayahead provides a platform for mentees and mentors to meet and establish a good relationship. You can skip all the how to’s, the when and the what.
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