Socrates, the founder of Western Philosophy mentored Plato. Plato mentored Aristotle; Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great, and in the ancient Greek era, Alexander the Great conquered a part of the world.
Mentoring is basically training others. Anyone can be a mentor as long as he or she is ready and willing to impart important knowledge to someone so long as their ready and willing to learn and grow. For someone who’s only starting out in their careers, there’s always uncharted territory ahead, and guidance from someone who’s been there can make the difference in their next steps.
On the other hand, mentoring can also be beneficial to you as the mentor. For starters, the most effective mentors also improve their own leadership skills. As you assist your mentee, you have the chance to reflect on and articulate your own expertise and experience–something you probably don’t take time to do otherwise.
So, what does it take to become an effective mentor? Here are a few we’ve listed down:
Develop and manage the mentoring relationship.
This involves assessing your own readiness and interest and selecting someone to mentor. It’s not ideal to train someone who’s not ready for what you are about to impart. So choose someone you think is ready, who you think is capable of thriving in his or her career with your guidance.
Over time, it means working to build trust, set goals and keep the mentoring relationship on track.
Guide and counsel.
You may serve as a confidant and personal advisor to your mentee, especially as the relationship grows deeper over time. You may help him understand conflict or explore ways to deal with problems, for example. You also can advise them about behavior that is a poor fit with the organizational culture.
Just while observing you mentees pick up many things: ethics, values and standards; style, beliefs, and attitudes; methods and procedures. They are likely to follow your lead, adapt your approach to their own style, and build confidence through their affiliation with you. As a mentor, you need to be keenly aware of your own behavior as well.
Motivate and inspire.
Mentors support, validate and encourage their mentees. When you help your mentees link their own goals, values, and emotions to the larger organizational agenda, they become more engaged in their work and in their own development.
Remember that each mentoring situation is different and that you will need to shift your focus depending on each person. If you’re mentoring an up-and-coming project manager, you will need to focus on the near-term challenges and prepare her for the next step.
Mentoring is a shared responsibility, and you and your mentee will need to work together for it to be successful. And at the end of it all, when your mentee is ready to spread its wings and go out into their next step, you will feel a sense of fulfillment knowing that you had something to do with their success. One day of mentoring can change one life forever. Be that mentor.