Great mentors help us become ourselves.
Great mentoring is more than developing skills, helping people create connections, and navigating organizational politics.
How to be a great mentor:
#1. Great mentors practice self-reflection. It’s a great loss to arrive at a station in life without knowing how you got there. You must see your journey in order to guide others on theirs.
You only see the journey by looking back.
#2. Great mentors are still growing. You never arrive. Thinking you have arrived disqualifies you from the circle of wisdom.
#3. Great mentors focus on doing and being. Skill-development (doing) easily surpasses authenticity (being). The result of developing skills without knowing who you are is arrogance, dissatisfaction, and anxiety. This is the challenge all young leaders face.
#4. Great mentors share positive lessons from negative experiences. It’s helpful to warn, but anger and bitterness pollute. You’re a firefighter, not a mentor, if all you know is what to avoid.
#5. Great mentors expose their screwups. Vulnerability is the channel to profound influence. A mentee may believe you’re larger than life. Putting on a show works at the theater, not leadership development.
Lessons from failure represent profound impact.
#6. Great mentors stand up and cheer when mentees show glimpses of authenticity. You understand the rigor of throwing off people-pleasing in order to become yourself. Stand up and cheer when you see it in someone else.
#7. Great mentors make room for others. You aren’t making a mini-you. It’s a great gift to let others shine. Listen more than talk. Focus on them more than you.
This post was inspired by a conversation with Bob Anderson and Bill Adams, authors of, “Mastering Leadership.” Here’s part of our conversation (3:28).
What do you look for in a great mentor?
**More about “Mastering Leadership,” including a fee chapter.
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