When you were a child, you learned much of what you know now through trusted parents, coaches, and teachers that pointed you into the right direction. You needed someone cheering you on, reminding you how able you are. You were probably always surrounded by adults that took care of your well-being. However, when you become an adult, things begin to change.
The encouraging words begin to stop. You are not always complimented on how well you handled yourself at the company meeting or how great your children are growing. Just think about how great it would be if you had someone offering you professional help along the way?
The truth is, there are many top professionals who depend on a close relationship with their mentors. The author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, attests to the success of having a trusted professional relationship with her mentor. The author once expressed that at one time she worked alongside a woman who mentored her. To her surprise, the woman confided in her and complained that no one had ever mentored her.
What is a mentor? A good mentor embodies the following qualities:
Give and Take- The basis of a great relationship with a mentor is that the relationship is beneficial on both ends. Each person makes the decisive choice to commit to the relationship. This relationship is transparent as both individuals openly share dreams, goals, and team up to find solutions.
Confidential- A good mentor is one that values their relationship with you so much that they are willing to keep personal information under wraps. It is important that a strong element of trust is built and maintained throughout the entire relationship.
Honest- Would there be a point to mentorship if both individuals are not honest? The relationship would soon fail. That is why a mentor should commit to openly share expectations from the relationship. You should never be too shy to share your vision and how you intend on getting there. Honest feedback is crucial in this relationship in order that both parties experience genuine growth.
Great Listener- A great mentor is one that is always listening and learning. In order for this to happen, both parties must feel like they are special to this relationship. Everyone must be given an opportunity to share and be heard. The relationship should never be one-sided or it will fail. A mentor should never make their mentees feel like they have a reason to feel intimidated or undervalued.
Tag Team- Take a moment to reflect on a partnership that heavily depends on collaborations and team effort. In order for these partners to succeed, their vision must be grounded in similar professional goals. They must unite for a larger cause. Developing a great tag team partner can actually help you realize hidden potential, preferences, and ambitions.
Role Model- An excellent mentor understands that they must lead by example. They know that their actions will speak louder than any piece of advice they can provide. In this way, a mentor makes sure that they are practicing what they are preaching. In this way, their mentee grows respect for them and see the possibility of following the example.
In other words, Sandberg defines this person as a therapist.
Some may turn their heads in horror. Not everyone believes that they need a therapist. Those who seek therapy are often looked down on as “crazy” or “insane”. Nonetheless, many individuals who are enjoying great success in their businesses, home life, and social life confess to the meaningful ties formed with mentors that paved the way. Although the common theme of influence reigns as the banner for most mentorships, there are numerous types of mentors.
5 Types of Mentors
Life Coach- This mentor is a professional who normally operates in human resources or as a consultant. Those who are seeking new employment opportunities usually seek the help of a life coach that analyzes their progress, offers career help, or simply offers assistance in personal life matters.
Teacher- A teacher is a mentor who educates and works along with students to accomplish academic goals while developing new skills. This mentor helps to promote learning by emphasizing the importance of knowledge and offering additional resources.
Confidante- This mentor offers an unorthodox method in mentorship. Instead of offering sound advice and direction, this type of mentor serves as a listening ear to scrambling thoughts, ideas, frustrations, and even advice.
Wise Leader- A wise leader is an individual who has obtained an authoritative status within an organization and has reached milestones that qualify this person as a wise individual. This mentor is known to take protégés under their wing to form informal relationships aimed toward imitation.
Self-Helper- The self-helper is usually not another person but rather a book, software, website, or manual. This mentor provides healthy direction in a variety of environments and serves as the foundation by which all mentor relationships thrive on.
You are never too young or old to join a mentor relationship with a trusted individual. Seek someone whose life you would like to imitate and request their direction. This does not have to be an awkward interaction. Just think of a mentor as a friend. This friend will open up many doors if you remain teachable and open.