We connect mentors with protégés all the time, and sometimes come across people who are already displaying the characteristics of good mentors, even if there’s no formal mentoring arrangement in place. What are these characteristics? With a nod to Jeff Foxworthy, here are 12 signs that you might already be a mentor.
1. You Listen
If you’re a good listener, you might be a mentor. Giving advice is valuable, but first you have to listen carefully to understand what your protégé needs from you. Attentive listening is critical.
2. You Share Your Experience
You don’t have to reach a certain age or seniority level to be a good mentor. Younger people have valuable experience too. What’s crucial is that you share the benefits of your experience with others. If you’ve just learned something valuable, you immediately want to tell your colleagues about it. If you’ve had a bad experience, you want to help others avoid it. If you’re doing these things already, then you might be a mentor.
3. You Let People Make Mistakes …
Good mentors don’t try to control their protégés’ lives or insulate them from the world. They let protégés follow their own paths, knowing that they’ll learn from their mistakes.
4. … But You Support Them When They Fail
Although good mentors give their protégés space to make their own decisions, they are there to give support and guidance when those decisions go bad. “I told you so” is a phrase they’ll never use. If your first instinct when someone fails is to support rather than criticize, you might be a mentor.
5. You Tell the Truth
If you’re the kind of person who gives an honest opinion rather than telling someone what they want to hear, you might be a mentor. After all, mentoring is not cheerleading: you want to be supportive, but you also have to give the unvarnished truth when it’s called for.
6. You Ask Good Questions
Protégés usually have plenty of questions for their mentors, but often it’s the questions mentors ask that are the most valuable. A well-directed, open-ended question can make someone think about things in a new way. If you’re an excellent questioner, and pair that with listening carefully to the answers, then you might already be a mentor.
7. You Look to the Future
The world is changing all the time, and the best mentors recognize that what worked for them in the past may not work for their protégés now or in the future. They keep in touch with the latest developments, and are open-minded enough to change their minds. Is that you? Then you might be a mentor.
8. You’re Successful
Again, there’s no pre-defined measure of success here. It could take many forms, and you certainly don’t have to be Warren Buffett. But even if it’s early in your career, you do need to have had some level of success in your field. That way you have the credibility to guide and advise other people.
9. You Want to Learn
Mentoring relationships are two-way streets; it’s not all about the mentor teaching the protégé. If you’re open to learning from anyone you meet, then you might be a mentor.
10. You Have Time for People
You have, or are willing to make, time when you know someone needs help. Mentors are often busy people, but they are available to their protégés as much as possible. If you are good at making time to help others, then you might be a mentor.
11. You’re Practical
Although mentoring is sometimes about big-picture things like life goals and career direction, it’s often about rolling your sleeves up and helping your protégé figure out some specific action items that will help meet a goal or solve a problem. If you’re comfortable going quickly from the general to the specific, then you might be a mentor.
12. You Care
It’s basic, but it’s perhaps the most important one of all. Do you care about other people? Do you want to help, regardless of what you personally gain? If so, then you probably possess quite a few of the other 11 characteristics as well, and you might well make an excellent mentor.
So, are you already a mentor? How many of those 12 characteristics did you recognize? Learn more about becoming a mentor today with Everwise.