What are your New Year's resolutions?
It's time to blow the dust off last year's goals, take a look at what you achieved - and don't forget to thank your mentors who made it possible. After all, January is National Mentoring Month, when we raise awareness of mentoring and celebrate the proven impact of our mentors. We can think of ways to put in place a more effective mentoring program in our businesses and organizations. "Few firms think as carefully about mentorship as they should," writes Anthony K. Tjan in the Harvard Business Review. "So for most companies, a wake-up call on the basics of mentorship is in order."
To answer that wake-up call, Leadership Development Services asked our friends on LinkedIn one very important question, "From your experience, what does it mean to be a mentor?" In response, we received inspiring tales of life-altering mentor moments, reflections on the best advice ever received - and most importantly key insights on the distinguishing characteristics of effective mentors.
Effective mentors freely share their knowledge and expertise. They impart their experiences - both good and bad - as information instead of advice.
"To be a mentor means that one scatters a trail of breadcrumbs of knowledge and experience, in hopes that the mentee will follow them. It means subsuming your ego in the service of seeing another person grow." -- Diana Gardner Robinson Ph.D.
"It means sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience with someone who chooses to listen and learn from you. Don't expect glory, huge rewards or personal returns from mentoring. It is a gift given happily, without expectations." -- Thomas AW
"A mentor should want to share their experiences and guide someone so that they are able to achieve their goals."
-- Samantha Brown
Good mentors are good listeners. While a key role of a mentor is to provide guidance, the cardinal rule is to listen more than you talk.
"A mentor doesn't get a mentee a job, but acts as a sounding board."-- Bryan C. Webb
They are open to discussing personal as well as professional issues. Often the two are interrelated.
"I think a mentor is someone who will give you guidance and share the wisdom of their experiences, in both career and life.
A good mentor does not necessarily have to be active in your life, but they should be available when you need them." -- Brett Balzer
"They can be either a life mentor or a career or professional mentor. Mentoring is usually a very motivational thing for both parties."-- Judy Pearson
"A mentoring relationship that had a profound impact on my life was with the division head of one of the multinationals I used to work for. My mentor helped me formulate a personal vision statement. That was nearly 20 years ago, and I still go back and read and rewrite bits of it."-- Russell Sy
They get directly involved in a mentee's career. Mentors aren't afraid to stick their necks out to recommend their mentees for jobs or assignments.
"A mentor is a person who can help you hone your skills and introduce you to other individuals who could help you grow, while knowing the ins, outs, and intricacies of your designated field."-- Tom Costello, CEO and Managing Director iGroupAdvisors
Effective mentors avoid giving advice. Instead of saying, "Here's what you need to do," they impart information.
"As a mentor, I have shared the best and worst experiences of my career and life with my mentees. It means sharing wisdom, knowledge of the industry or field - and everything that comes in between. I have shared my experiences so that people can have these tailor-made for their career and life decisions."
-- Ganesh Subramanian
"A mentor is there to support and guide, but only when requested. A mentor must allow the person space to find answers for themselves through creative guidance. Otherwise, personal and professional growth can be stagnated for the individual."-- Neville Stokes
"To be a mentor, you need strong coaching and leadership skills to keep a mentee's morale and spirits up."-- Alex Khoo
Good Mentors Are . . . Unforgettable
"I had two mentors at key points in my 35-year career in aerospace. They were a combination of technical, management and communications talent, rarely found in the high-tech industry. The challenges of mentorship are unending, the satisfaction is high, and the opportunity to contribute and pass one's knowledge forward is unlimited." --Kenneth Larson