Three Things to Look for in a Potential Mentor

Maura Mann, Vice President
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Having a mentor is an important part of your personal and professional development. They guide you along your career path and act as sounding boards for making decisions. A proper mentor is excited to share their knowledge, skills, and experience while providing advice to move toward your professional goals.

Here are three qualities to search for when finding a mentor.

Personal Fit

A potential mentor must be a personal fit for you. They need to create a strategy to fill your needs by focusing on your talents and skills. A mentor must be enthusiastic about helping you move forward professionally. They must be compatible with your personality, so the relationship develops naturally and feels authentic. A mentor has to push you to become a better version of yourself. They must provide constructive feedback on which areas you excel in and specific ways to improve in other areas. A mentor needs to get to know your needs and interests to help you set and achieve short- and long-term goals and objectives to become the expert you want to be. They have to develop corrective actions to help you become more successful in your work. A mentor needs to build trust with you. Since you’ll be talking about issues in confidence, you have to have your privacy respected.

Value Learning

A potential mentor has to focus on lifelong learning. They need to continually learn and share information with you for personal and professional development. A mentor has to encourage you to take on challenges and expand your comfort zone. They should remind you to look at things from other perspectives to gain understanding and clarity. A mentor must realize that being an expert doesn’t mean they know everything. If they don’t have the answer to something, they need to find and share it with you. A mentor also should be open to learning from you, so they increase their knowledge base.

Active Listening

A potential mentor needs to excel at active listening. They have to focus on what you’re saying and respond accordingly. A mentor should ask for clarity or additional information to clearly understand what you’re saying and formulate an answer. They need to completely focus on your conversation without being distracted or interrupted by phone calls, emails, or other activities around you. A mentor has to ask questions, reflect on your answers, and provide silence when you need to think.

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