Finding a mentor is a positive step toward growing both professionally and personally. Usually, mentors are people who have been working in particular areas for years and have varied experience within that niche when those just entering it seek them out. However, not just any veteran professional will do. You need to find a mentor who you personally respect and thus intend to learn from, and there are several important factors to consider when seeking a guide. Here are four qualities of an effective mentor.
Personal Interest in Helping Others
Even if you want to learn from someone, that is not enough. The other person must have a personal interest in wanting to teach and help. A strong mentor should be invested in you. She or he should focus on your overall growth rather than teach you to push only for success. This is an investment in long-term expansion for both the mentor and the mentee. The best mentors guide those they work with to form and strengthen their own beliefs and talents. Mentors need to be good teachers with strong communication skills. Effective mentors encourage yet gently challenge mentees to reach for the best in themselves.
Effective mentors are willing to share their experiences, knowledge, energy, and time with mentees. Look for a mentor who will take you as you are right now in your professional journey. The best mentors know that a relationship with a mentee is a long-term affiliation that requires nurturing, and they will gladly share with their mentees whenever they feel they can help. For example, John Branca is a veteran attorney in the entertainment industry, and he feels sharing with and teaching the upcoming generation of lawyers is an important part of his work.
Appreciates Continuing Development in Field
Choose a mentor who is active in your particular niche, be it law or manufacturing or public relations. The most effective teacher and guide is always personally seeking growth and welcoming advancements in the niche. A mentor cannot teach you anything new if she or he is not learning new processes and procedures themselves and then putting into practice what they learn. Choose a mentor who has career satisfaction and feels excited about professional work. Such a person will naturally pass on their positive attitudes to you.
Seek out a mentor who sets personal goals and strives to meet them. This may include publishing professional articles, staying current on industry news and developments, and networking with other industry veterans. Your mentor should model the development and importance of good personal habits and values and serve as a healthy example to you.
The Art of Mentoring
Not everyone is an effective mentor, but someone who is can teach you a great deal not only about your career but also about how your personality and attributes fit into the big picture and contribute to the whole. A great mentor is always seeking personal growth yet is willing to take time to share with and guide the mentee. When well-matched, a relationship between a mentor and mentee can help both grow.