Mentorship, which is the process of gaining personalized guidance from a more experienced professional in a selected industry, is one of the keys to entrepreneurial and professional success. Yet, one cannot simply ask any seasoned professional to mentor them and expect to gain the full benefits of a carefully curated mentorship. Instead, a would-be mentee needs to develop a list of valuable traits that should be exhibited by a potential mentor. Five traits all mentors should have, no matter the industry, are:
Availability: It takes time to properly mentor another, even if the mentee is shadowing the mentor. Therefore, it might be a mistake to choose a mentor who does not have the time to talk through decisions, answer questions, and explain new situations.
Patterns of success: A mentor who has had failures can be a wonderful choice, as long as they have come out of failure to success. Only a mentor with successes can teach a mentee what not to do, and what TO do.
The ability and willingness to push: A mentor is not there just to lecture or serve as an example, but also to push their mentee to try new things, to work harder, and to believe in themselves.
Honesty: Mentorship is more about the mentee than the mentor. If the mentor is afraid of giving honest and critical feedback, then they are not fulfilling their role. Instead, one should choose a mentor who is ready to use honesty as a means of helping their mentee improve.
Objectivity: A mentor that has too much self-interest in the process may not give as much value to a mentee as one who is objective. With objectivity comes the ability to admit when another individual has developed a better idea or process than the one the mentor uses. Only with objectivity can a mentor truly focus on the needs and potential of their mentee.
The mentor/mentee relationship has been used for countless years to help the young and inexperienced enter fields with the knowledge necessary to innovate, create, and maintain quality as the older generation leaves the workforce. Without carefully selecting a mentor, however, a mentee can find themselves getting the short end of the stick in their professional education, leaving them woefully unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead.