The Top 4 Qualities of Great MentorsMentoring ignites boldness by answering doubt with relational learning.
4 qualities of great mentors:
The guide isn’t the star of the show.
Fight the urge toward self-importance. Feeling that you know more or have the answer for someone else translates into closed ears, opened mouths, and arrogant hearts.
Knowledge puffs up.
Successful mentors aren’t superior to anyone. Humility is the first quality to look for in a mentor. Arrogant mentors mold proteges into their own image. Humble mentors bring practical value while lighting the path of self-discovery.
Humility levels relationships.
Mentors and mentees experience mutual learning. One mentor asked, “How do you manage your calendar?” Our discussion helped me clarify and elevate the law of protection. Frankly, my calendering practice may not work well for others, but his question put me on the path of self-discovery and clarity.
#2. Not Helping:
Helping too much hinders. Open-hearted mentors may help too much.
Those who struggle grow.
The best help is helping others help themselves. Hand-holding promotes helplessness and fear.
Dependence in proteges reflects neediness in mentors.
#3. Truth with compassion:
Sledgehammers take less finesse than scalpels.
Mentors offer truthful feedback with compassion.
Truth without compassion creates barriers that hinder relationships.
You lose when others feel they need to protect themselves from your “honesty.” Don’t trash open hearts.
Questioning and exploration often work better than statements.
#4. Courageous candor:
Compassion isn’t an excuse for dishonesty.
Fuel for courageous candor:
- Commit to another’s highest good. (They must believe and feel it.)
- Participate in their journey Don’t stand aloof.
- Accept mentees for who they are.
- Focus more on maximizing strengths than fixing weaknesses.
- Find paths forward that suit mentees, be flexible.
- Clarify goals and purpose. A powerful “why” softens the blow of tough truths.
- Know yourself. Mild mentors may need more candor, bold less.
What qualities do you look for in a mentor?
What negative qualities hamper mentors?
**I can’t determine if mentoring or maximizing is the most important word in the leader’s dictionary. Thoughts?
Announcement: I’m giving the keynote for a mentoring conference in Central PA on Oct. 23, 2014. Join me.
Everyone learns in different ways. A mentor has to have the ability to identify his mentee approach for learning. As usual, Dan, thanks, it’s a great post!!
Thanks Luis. Confidence isn’t saying “my way or the highway.” It’s asking, “What way works?”
There is a definite connectivity between mentoring and maximizing, however there is also a vast difference in what they can accomplish.
I believe ‘strengthsfinder’ says it best when describing maximizing – ‘utilizes the strength by stimulating personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb’.
A mentor definitely stimulates the mentee to action and goals. There is the building of a relationship to garner results.
Based the what a true leader needs in order to gain results, to build a culture of success, having the ability to create a mindset and passion of excellence, evolve a vision that everyone can get behind – Maximizing wins hands down for most important trait for a leader.
I understand too much hand holding is not good, but If you care about the person you mentor aren’t there some things you should tell them? With holding information is not always good, sometimes it’s actually selfish. Just my thoughts😐
Good one Dan, mentoring or maximizing is a tough call, I believe they work together. They can both be done with various amounts of success. Corporate probably seeks the maximum first and mentoring second, I see them as equally important because if we mentor we can develop the maximization to a greater extreme. If we don’t mentor, we may be shooting ourselves in the foot later on the road to maximizing.
Thanks Tim. Your approach is helpful. I see the strong connection between mentoring and maximizing that you suggest. I also think of maximizing as a broader term.
When I wrote the post, I was with you, mentoring is the most important “M” in the leader’s dictionary. My only hitch is that maximizing has broader application. We might maximize processes or strengths without mentoring. But…..
Then I flop back to mentoring … Thanks for your insights
I take few words from the post that are needed to become good mentor. They are truth, honesty and humility. People look for truth. They expect the honesty in feedback. Many times, honesty may not work, so mentors should encourage them by being bit different. Honesty should be practiced keeping in the view the feeling of mentee. Many times, mentees are not equip to handle truth, especially when it focuses on weaknesses. But in all the transaction, mentor should be authentic. It should bring energy, curiosity and passion in the mentee. Humility is the great values, that is utmost important to understand others.
Arrogance and Ego hamper mentors. Any kind of camouflage will hamper the learning. I think, creating belief in others is the great concept that enhances relationship. Mentors should generate positive feelings in order to bring more positive change. And this is the key to mentor-mentee relationships.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. The first thing that jumps out for me is your reference to energy. Monitoring the energy level of mentees is a guide to how far to go. A declining energy level may indicate they are getting too far outside of their comfort zone.
I would argue though, that depending on the situation, a lack of energy, curiosity, or passion may be the result of a lack of mentorship, direction, or focus. In such case, it would be pertinent for someone to reach out and show they care, and follow up. Sometimes that is all people need to get them on the right path.
Thanks John. Good call. I find that monitoring energy levels is extremely useful in nearly every leadership context.
Re: mentoring vs. maximizing = long range vision/greater (?) ROI vs short term vision, perhaps even in the weeds too much and more immediate (but perhaps smaller) ROI.
Taking the M’s over to the P’s….Passionate, Planful, and Unconditional Positive Regard would be some solid qualities in a mentor.Have to believe, with all their heart in what they are doing, and their passion and empathy shines through. Planful in listening and truly hearing/knowing what is being said before responding. And UPR tightly interwoven with the previous Ps ensures that it is all about the mentee, not the mentor….although, any competent mentor should be imbedding all of the mentee’s learnings for the mentor’s future growth as well. Reciprocity happens along with shift.Definitely agree with Dr. G about the humbling honor of it all too.
Thanks Doc. Interesting on the long term vs short term. I suppose the needs of the organization become a factor.
Three “P” for mentors… Triple P Mentoring. 🙂
Reciprocity is an excellent term for the mentoring relationship. One way relationships eventually wither and die. Plus, two way relationships help keep mentors from being aloof.
Spot on. Humility is most important for me. But I would add Sense of Humor. Need to be able to lighten the mood sometimes or we lose perspective.
Thanks Joe. Great add. Nothing like a good laugh, even when it’s at ourselves, to open the mind and connect hearts.
I am in the early stages of building a mentoring program for International protégés working with English speaking mentors. I am a professional leadership coach as are you. Can you use your “scalpel” to distinguish the differences between coaching and mentoring? What are the boundaries of each and how can we respect both disciplines?
Thanks Stephen. Great question. Definitions determine direction and limit scope. Agreeing on definitions enables us to create a safe and useful playing field.
Mentoring involves more life experience than coaching, from my point of view.
Mentoring is a learning relationship. Typically/preferably one-on-one.
In International situations language matters. Mentor may suggest dynamics that hinder the learning relationship. Think of subordinate/superior, for example.
You might think about using terms like coach if they achieve the goal better.
Coaching is more client driven.
Mentor may be driven by either party.
Extending advice fits more easily into the mentoring model.
I realize I’ve just tossed a few ideas into a very large bucket.
Establishing boundaries makes a lot of sense, as well as ethical guidelines. For example, will the conversations be confidential?
What are your thoughts on this?
Extremely helpful, thank you, with the emphasis on humility, respecting individuality and compassionate feedback. The picture reminds me of this favorite poem: http://books.google.com/books?id=GfHkBy5MB6EC&lpg=PA125&ots=dpY4ncKjdi&dq=nevertheless%20%22marianne%20moore%22&pg=PA125#v=onepage&q=nevertheless%20%22marianne%20moore%22&f=false
Thanks Garrett. I’m glad you extended the conversation.
Great piece. The key here is “not helping too much.”
Thanks RG. Good call.
All the points mark also a great personal or business coach. Great piece!
Thanks Jorma. Best for the journey.
Humility is important but for many of us it is abandoned and filled with arrogance. I am glad you listed as the number one! Thanks Dan, you bring such great value everyday!
Thanks Tom. Character begins and ends with humility. Thanks for the good word. Cheers
Thank you Dan! Timely post, finding a Mentor to build a relationship with has been heavy on my heart lately.
Question: How important is it for a mentor to be somebody who you see as successful in all the pillars? For example I know some very successful people on the business and financial pillars whose family views and Faith I strongly disagree with. To this point, I talk with the faith guys about faith stuff, work guys about work stuff etc…but those relationships feel more superficial then I am looking for, and besides the more difficult topics where I am looking for guidance and advice are where the pillars try to overlap.
Proverbs has been on my mind about not walking in the counsel of the ungodly, should I hold out for a mentor that is successful on all their pillars, or am I chasing a Unicorn?
Thanks Jacob. Best wishes in your pursuit.
Regarding the character of a mentor. Some depends on how close and how long you think the relationship will be. The closer and longer the relationship the more alignment becomes important.
The other thought regards what you expect from them. Your suggestion of narrowing the focus of conversations makes sense to me as long as you are confident in your own values and beliefs.
Great question. I think the final answer is “it depends.” 🙂 Cheers
The realization that maximizing strengths and not “fixing weaknesses” is a light bulb and “a-ha” moment!
Thanks Sue. It’s a real shift in thinking that has made so much difference in my approach to individuals and teams. Cheers
Great tips to remember Dan, I mentor medical office managers. Thanks 🙂
Great post, Dan!
Reflecting on your question about which is more important “maximizing or mentoring”- I would say mentoring. Maximizing feels rather mechanical, whereas mentoring is connecting with another human being and helping enhance their effectiveness through relationship. Mentoring feels alot more organic and suitable to cultivating talent. The end result will undoubtedly, if the relationship is effective, be to maximize the menthes effectiveness- the goal, I think becomes important- in distinguishing between a mechanistic vs. holistic and organic approach. I think to really, effectively cultivate human potential the latter approach and perspective will be important.
Thanks again for your thoughtful and though-provoking post!
Thank you very much. I really enjoyed this post. One of the things that really changed things for me was learning about neuroplasticity and that we are not set in stone and that change is possible. Against the odds, I have learned to play the violin and to ski having one-on-one lessons where we’ve worked on my weaknesses and strengths, more often working on my weaknesses and overcoming them. Quite often our weaknesses can really hold us back. So mentors need to be able to point out and work on weaknesses in a way that encourages mentees to persist and realise the payoffs of persistence and perseverance. While this requires certain qualities in the mentor, like you discussed, the mentee also needs to appreciate the power of improving your weaknesses and refining your technique to do the best you can. I have a swag of medical issues and disability and really you wouldn’t think I could play a violin or ski. However, slowly but surely my teachers corrected my technique and helped me achieve the miraculous!! xx Rowena
Re the 4 Points: I believe humility and the other points all start at the thought level. We know the saying/scripture, ‘As a man thinks so he is’ or my favorite, ‘change begins by renewing our mind.’ (Not exact quotes but paraphrased.) Everyone has the potential to be a great leader/mentor; however, not everyone is mentally equipped to be one. It really does boil down to your thought environment. If your circle is filled with arrogant people, one may be less likely to recognize themselves as being arrogant. In my experience, God often dethrones these individuals making them feel the ultimate shame of such…#Losing #PrideNeverWins
maximizing: Mentoring and Coaching to me is a form of servant leadership. Servant leadership is all about who(m) you serve. In my opinion, maximizing should be the outcome of your servantship. Afterall, most ppl want to be connected to mentors/coaches/leaders who add value to their dreams, goals, vision, and/or mission, not those who take away from it or make it less than it began.
Having a mentor can make or break your success. I have found that my success in the business world is due to the fact that I follow the careers of those who are more successful than myself. I worked hard and took the advice of others in order to grow my business to the size it is today. I have been following the career of Mark Hurd for the last few years now, since he has taken over at Oracle. I have also been impressed with his leadership and ability to turn a company around. I have closely following his statements at OpenWorld 2016 and I am excited for what he has in store and I am looking forward to the direction that Oracle is heading in the next few years.