“Every great athlete, artist, and inspirational being has a great team to help them flourish and succeed – personally and professionally. Even the so-called ‘solo star’ has a strong supporting cast helping them shine, thrive and take flight.” ― Rasheed Ogunlaru
Truth be told, no one succeeds all by their lonesome. Behind every successful man and woman, there had been many who have helped them to become who they are.
In addition to family and friends who championed them on their journey, there are likely to be one, two – or even a handful of people who have contributed to their achievements.
In fact, you’d be interested to know that a survey targeted to CEOs found that 80% said that they’ve had mentors who helped them fast-tracked their careers!
Read More: Leadership is Not a Title: 3 Steps to Lead the Way to Meaningful Change
Personally, I consider myself blessed to have had several mentors throughout my life.
Without their generosity in sharing their knowledge, skills, and experience, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be who I am today – and for that, I’m truly grateful.
Drawing from my own experience, here are the five top qualities that I believe every great mentor should have:
1. A positive mindset
As a self-professed ‘relentless optimist’, it’s no surprise that positivity is something that I consider a must-have in a mentor.
Even if you’re not a glass-half-full kind of person, know that energy is contagious. Hence, it’s certainly in your best interest to look for a mentor who has a positive outlook and is passionate.
He, she or they should be someone who encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and keep believing in you – even in moments where you don’t believe in yourself.
2. The ability to give constructive feedback
While it’s true that feedback has a bad rap and often perceived as criticism, as long as you’re able to weed out those that are constructive and those that you should blatantly ignore, feedback can be very helpful.
Even when they appear to be ‘unpleasant’ on the surface, if they’re given with the right intention, they can actually act as a catalyst to your growth.
A part of being a great mentor is the ability to offer constructive feedback and be a sounding board to their mentees. The feedback that they give is intended to help others progress and improve. This is because they take pleasure in seeing others succeed as much as they enjoy their own success.
That said, they also understand that everyone learns at their own pace and that mentoring takes patience. Hence, when giving feedback, they do not force their expectations or opinions on their mentees.
Read More: How to Best Deal with Criticism
3. The willingness to share knowledge & wisdom
If you consider someone as a potentially great mentor, more often than not, they already have a full plate of responsibilities.
Even so, if they are willing and accept to take you in under their wing, no matter how preoccupied they are, they will not take this relationship lightly.
After all, they know that their time & effort are valuable and will do what they can to ensure that they are able to help you to accomplish your goals during your mentorship sessions.
A big part of this, of course, includes sharing the lessons and wisdom they’ve learned in their own journey to success with you.
4. The ability to set boundaries
Though they believe the mentor-mentee relationship to be ‘sacred’, great mentors also have the ability to effectively set boundaries.
They make sure that mentees don’t become co-dependent and rely on them as a crutch. Instead, they empower their mentees by giving them the space to make mistakes. This enables them to learn valuable lessons through their own experiences.
5. The commitment to practice what they preach
If I were only to give a single piece of advice to the younger generation, it’d be since we *all* judge anyways, ‘don’t judge people on their appearance or what they say, judge them by what they do.’ This also happens to apply perfectly when it comes to seeking a mentor.
A great mentor understands that their actions have a huge impact and that it’s essential for them to lead by example.
Choosing the right mentor(s) is crucial in shaping your future, both professionally and personally. So, be sure to take your time. Observe their behavior and habits to evaluate whether they match what they ‘preach’.
If the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ and they happen to tick the other four characteristics I had shared above, perhaps it’s time to take the leap of faith and ask them to become your mentor. Best of luck!
Need professional guidance in choosing & approaching your potential mentor(s)? Working with a coach will help you gain clarity and tangible steps for you to do so! Not convinced? Book your FREE discovery call today to learn firsthand.