Top Qualities to look for in a Mentor

Top Qualities to look for in a Mentor

Deskera Content Team
Deskera Content Team
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Mentors can be helpful in numerous ways. Starting from seeking professional help to personal development, such as leadership skills, public speaking, career choices, work-life balancing, time management, discipline, etc.

Mentorship programmes help to improve workplace culture, boost professional development and progress, reduce training expenses, increase employee retention, and plan for succession.

However, we often overlook that just having the skills you want to acquire cannot suffice for an ideal mentor. It needs to be an amalgamation of specific qualities and skills for an individual to be a good mentor. Simply, being in a position long enough does not make someone a good mentor.

Read on to understand what mentorship entails for both parties involved.

  1. Who is a mentor?
  2. How do you pick a mentor?
  3. Do I hold this individual in high regard?
  4. Is it possible for me to get along with this person?
  5. Is this person capable of assisting me in achieving my objectives?
  6. Is this person content in their job?
  7. What are my objectives in seeking a mentor?
  8. How To Be A Good Mentee?
  9. Key Takeaways

Who is a mentor?

A mentor is an individual who can help you by providing support, advice, and guidance. They usually take the time to get to know you and your problems and then use their knowledge and personal experience to help you better.

This relationship is distinct from that of a manager or supervisor, and it has a more personal and private framework. Mentors may become lifelong friends, or the relationship may endure until you've accomplished a goal; there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

If you are looking for inspiration, Christian Dior, Richard Branson, and Oprah Winfrey are a few superstars who have shared their experiences of having a mentor and how it impacted their career trajectory.

A mentor becomes your advocate, not so much in the public eye as in your professional life. Many companies realise the value of successful mentoring. They have devised programmes to assist younger professionals in building a mentorship with experienced professionals.

How do you pick a mentor?

A mentor is someone whose life feels a lot like your imaginative future. Someone who aligns with your ambitions and view of the world; would be an excellent guide for you.

We encourage you not to conceive of a mentor in traditional terms because today's mentors can be of any age and can be from any field. We frequently limit our mentors to people in higher-ranking positions. It isn't wise to allow someone's age, rank, or experience to pigeonhole your thinking.

It's a good idea to make a list of two or three potential mentors. As you reach out, you may discover that someone is too busy to invest the time or may not be the best at guiding you about whatever you admire. Ask yourself the following four questions when you compile your list of potential mentors:

Do I hold this individual in high regard?

First, consider whether you admire this person for their accomplishments and professional approach. It is best if you and your mentor share a similar viewpoint as professionals and look at the same objectives in life.

Is it possible for me to get along with this person?

While you may have found someone who fulfils your criteria for an ideal mentor, that individual may not be the best partner for you. It's vital to know that you can collaborate and communicate well with the individual who will guide your career.

The mentor should be encouraging, communicative, and motivating, and they should care about your needs. Understand the person before looking at him as a mentor.

First and foremost, establish a bond. Even if you believe the mentor you desire is highly knowledgeable, they may not be able to share that information appropriately.

Is this person capable of assisting me in achieving my objectives?

Mentorship isn't about someone telling you what to do; it's about someone encouraging you to figure things out independently. An excellent mentor will guide rather than advise you. Inspire, rather than motivate; critique, rather than condemn; give ideas and options, rather than do it.

Is this person content in their job?

Success does not always imply being good at something and achieving well in your chosen profession. It will be evident if successful individual works at a secretly despise job. That person is unlikely to be your ideal mentor. Look for someone who genuinely enjoys what they do.

What are my objectives in seeking a mentor?

Guidance and assistance are often beneficial, but they are ineffective if provided without a goal in mind. To get to a specific location, you'll need a sense of direction, but imagine if you don't have either. That could cause you to waste a lot of time going around in circles.

Similarly, collecting advice and ideas from people with experience may appear valuable. Still, suppose you do not identify your needs. In that case, all of that information may become knowledge overload with no hint of implementation.

This self-awareness activity will emphasize the areas you want to improve, which will aid in finding someone to help you get there.

The following are some of the most common reasons people seek out a mentor:

  • To find a career path
  • To receive assistance in a specific field from someone who has "been there and done it."
  • to expand their network
  • To receive assistance with your career
  • to strive for a promotion

Having a mentor to assist and advise you has a significant influence, whether learning to manage people for the first time or increasing your comfort with public speaking.

Is this person capable of assisting me in achieving my objectives?

Mentorship isn't about someone telling you what to do; it's about someone encouraging you to figure things out independently. An excellent mentor will guide rather than advise you. Inspire, rather than motivate; critique, rather than condemn; give ideas and options, rather than do it.

• appreciate your mentoring partners on their wins and actions;

• highlight positive traits (such as perseverance and integrity) in addition to their performance and accomplishments;

• praise them privately, one-on-one;

• publicly commend them (keeping in mind any cultural or style preferences regarding public praise);

• express gratitude;

• write encouraging notes or e-mails;

• leave nice voice messages, and

• let them know how you use any assistance they provide.

Make sure your compliments and encouragements are genuine. When it comes to mentoring, err on the side of too much rather than too little praise. For every critical remark, some human development specialists advocate a ratio of four or five praises.

Top qualities to look for in a mentor

While it can be a generic answer and more common sense if you have read until this point, however, as per research, no structure for mentorship may allow us to answer this through data and be more specific.

Linda Phillips-Jones (1977) looked at hundreds of mentor-mentee relationships and people who couldn't find a mentor. The result was that mentoring was far more testable and sophisticated than previously imagined.

According to additional research conducted by The Mentoring Group, substandard mentoring relationships develop unless a reasonably defined approach and specific abilities are used.

Little happens, and the participants are dissatisfied with their well-intentioned but clumsy efforts. Worse, dissatisfied participants come to believe that mentoring is ineffective. On the plus side, when people employ these abilities and add structure to their lives, both mentees and mentors experience significant and pleasant changes.

Active Listening

The most basic mentoring skill is active listening; the other skills build on — and require — it. You show your mentors and mentees that you have heard and comprehended their worries when you listen carefully. As a result, they begin to trust you since they feel accepted by you. You can demonstrate that you're paying attention by engaging in various visible behaviours.

Always resist the need to redirect the conversation to your own experiences and ideas and the urge to offer immediate solutions to any difficulties you may hear. Listen closely first, then fix the problem later. See if you can help your mentors and mentees become better listeners and problem solvers if they have a habit of fixing problems right away.

Developing Trust

Your mentors and mentees will be more devoted to your partnerships with them if they trust you, and you will be more productive. If your mentors and mentees notice certain appropriate behaviours on your part, trust will develop over time.

To gain trust, you must:

• keep your mentors' and mentees' confidence;

• spend appropriate time together;

• keep your promises to them;

• respect your mentors' and mentees' boundaries;

• admit your mistakes and take responsibility for correcting them; and

• tactfully tell your partners if and why you disagree or are dissatisfied with something, so they know you're honest with them. Trust is crucial in cross-difference mentoring (e.g., gender, culture, style, age), and it must be developed over time.

The mentor should be encouraging, communicative, and motivating, and they should care about your needs. Before you ask someone to be your mentor, get to know them well.

First and foremost, establish a bond. Even if you believe the mentor you desire is highly knowledgeable, they may not be able to share that information appropriately.


According to Phillips-Jones' research, encouraging is the most valuable mentoring ability. This includes recognising and providing accurate positive verbal comments to your mentoring partners.

Effective mentors provide encouragement to their mentees, which boosts their confidence and allows them to grow.

Simultaneously, successful mentees make it a point to positively reinforce their mentors, which helps the mentors stay focused and motivated. Frequently, give real, positive comments to your mentors and mentees.

While there are various methods to encourage, and mentors and mentees may prefer different sorts and amounts of it, you can: • congratulate your mentoring partners on their accomplishments and activities;

• praise them privately, one-on-one;

• commend them in front of others (being sensitive to any cultural and style preferences regarding public praise);

• express thanks and appreciation;

• write encouraging memos or e-mail and leave complimentary voice mail; and

• let them know how you use any help they provide.

Make sure your words of praise and encouragement are genuine. When mentoring, err on the side of too much rather than too little praise. Some human development specialists propose a four-to-five praise-to-corrective-remark ratio.

Able to articulate Objectives

You should have a personal vision, clear goals, and a good understanding of current reality, whether you're a mentor or a mentee. As a mentor, be clear about your mentees' aspirations, dreams, and career/life objectives and talk to them.

They'll be curious about your current reality (your perceptions of your strengths and limits and the current reality of situations within your organization) and seek assistance in recognising their own. This is a skill that you will need as a mentee as well.

Before asking for aid, you should know your tentative goals, strengths, what development you require, and the special assistance you require. You should talk to your mentors about it.

The more conscious you are of these, and the better you can communicate them to possible assistance, the more likely they will be to assist you with your next steps.

To demonstrate this mentoring skill,

  • know what's important to you, what you value and desire most;
  • identify areas in which you can perform well, very concrete examples of behaviors you can perform at a good-to-excellent level;
  • identify specific weaknesses or growth areas observed in yourself and others;
  • set tentative one- to five-year goals to reach in your personal life and career, and describe the reality of your abilities accurately.

Critical Skills for Mentors

Looking out for qualities would help you understand who your mentor is holistic. At the same time, the skills of a mentor will help you understand what can be learnt from them.

To distinctly understand the two, Qualities define a person's personality traits and characteristics, while skills include a person's ability to complete a task efficiently. Qualities can be inherent and enhanced if needed, while skills are acquired consistently through learning and practice.

So, let's look at some critical skills in a mentor that might be beneficial for a mentee.

Instructing/Developing Capabilities

Probably all mentors do some teaching or instructing as part of their mentoring. The skill is essential for informal mentoring not involving formal speeches and lectures. Instead, your instruction will usually be more informal—from modelling specific behaviours to conveying ideas and processes one-on-one, in a tutoring mode. You'll: • be a "learning broker" as you assist your mentees in finding resources such as people, books, software, websites, and other information sources.

• teach your mentees new knowledge, skills, and attitudes by explaining, giving compelling examples, and asking thought-provoking questions;

• help your mentees gain broader perspectives of their organizations, including history, values, culture, and politics;

• demonstrate or model effective behaviours, pointing out what you're trying to do; and

• help them monitor performance and refocus steps as needed.

Teaching the mentoring process is an essential aspect of your mentorship. Making process comments—pointing out, naming, and otherwise encouraging your mentees to recognize whatever component of mentoring you're doing at the time—and why—can help you do this.

Managing Risks

Another distinguishing characteristic of influential mentors is their willingness and ability to protect their mentees from setbacks. Former tasks include preventing your mentees from making unnecessary mistakes as they learn to take appropriate risks.

This skill of Managing Risks builds closely on the core skill of Building Trust identified earlier. Some refer to this risk management process as helping mentees "step out on the branch, then fly when ready."

To sum it up:

• assist your mentees in recognizing the risks involved in actions and projects, including some risks (and mistakes) you've experienced;

• make suggestions to help them avoid significant mistakes (business, career, financial, personal, and other) in judgment or action;

• aid them to learn how to prepare well, get wise counsel, then trust their own decisions and actions; and

• if requested under challenging situations, intervene as your mentees' advocate with others. Mentees and mentors in many corporations have identified Managing Risks as an increasingly crucial mentoring skill.

Mentees might experience certain business risks such as dealing incorrectly with customers, missing deadlines, underestimating project costs, doing something unethical, or compromising quality. Plus, the career Risks involve:

  • Taking up the wrong job.
  • Staying in a job too long and.
  • Not being able to sell others on one's ideas.
  • Failing to learn and improve.

Your mentees will discover some of these risks and others only you—with your wisdom and experience—will recognize. Still, other challenges will seem riskier to your mentees than they really are. Offer to help your mentees identify and determine how to handle these risks with recognition, prevention, and recovery strategies.

How To Be A Good Mentee?

Mentorship, as already established, is a two-way street. So, we have included a brief understanding of how a person can make the most of mentorship by inculcating some good-mentee elements in their approach. Let's dive right into it.

Coordinate with your mentor and devise an action plan.

If participants write down their goals, they are 40% more likely to realise them. If the goals are communicated with someone who can hold them accountable, such as a mentor, this rises to 70%.'

Take the initiative! Make sure you take notes throughout each mentoring session to develop an action plan to achieve your objectives. Your mentor may be the guide to you, but you should be the one in charge.

Before each session, make a list of actions for yourself. You're inviting your mentor to keep you accountable (which means they're more likely to get done) by running these actions by them.

Do your homework

This is critical since it demonstrates your commitment to the mentoring relationship and personal development. Good mentees will have thought about why they want a mentor and what they hope to learn from it. This ensures that they get off to a good start in their relationship and that they can track their development.

Spend some time before your first session preparing for this so you'll be able to articulately and explain it when you meet. Present your objectives and be specific about the areas where you require assistance. This is also an excellent time to express any concerns you may have regarding the mentoring process and how it will function.

Having this prepared will give you a remarkable first impression and allow you to get right to work. It's also important to be prepared for any future mentorship meetings. Here's a checklist:

  • Prepare your questions and topics to be a strategic teammate.

Make sure you've set aside some time before the meeting to prepare discussion topics or questions. This demonstrates your commitment to improving your mentor and guarantees that the meetings are as fruitful as possible.

  • Prepare a schedule if you want to be a great mentee.

Before you meet, come up with 2-to 3 conversation topics or questions that you'd like to explore in your mentoring session. To steer the conversation and give your mentor an expectation of what you'd like to focus on, email this to them before you meet for the next session.

Reflect and ask for feedback

Reflect on your accomplishments thus far and discuss any lessons learnt together at the start of each session. Nothing makes a mentor happier than seeing their advice put into action and you grow. As a result, make sure to keep them updated on your progress.

It's also wonderful to express your gratitude by writing a thank you message or getting coffee with your mentor if you're meeting in person!

Being a good mentee also entails being open to feedback and actively seeking it. Asking for feedback demonstrates a desire to learn and develop, a distinguishing feature of a successful mentee.

Try asking open-ended questions on a particular topic, such as:

  • "Which aspects of my teamwork approach concern you the most?"
  • "Can you tell me what you think is working and what isn't in my pitch?"
  • "What could I do differently to improve my chances of success the most?"

It's important to remember not to take nasty remarks personally. Instead, think of it as a personal challenge to better yourself!

Be the driver, not the passenger.

Mastering the art of asking practical questions is a valuable leadership trait, and your mentoring sessions are an excellent place to start developing your communication abilities.

Another method to prepare for a successful mentoring session is to develop some intelligent questions ahead of time.

To get you started, here are a few examples of questions we recommend:

  • "What is the most valuable leadership lesson you've learnt, and how did you learn it?"
  • "Could you tell me about when you worked for a very challenging boss?" How did you deal with it?
  • "How did you develop the ability to speak so eloquently in front of others?"
  • "How can I improve my management of non-reporting employees?"
  • "How did you come to accept failure?"

These questions may arise naturally as you converse with your mentor. However, having a list of questions on hand that might lead to meaningful dialogues and life lessons is always helpful.

How Can Deskera Assist You?

As a business, you must be diligent with employee leave management. Deskera People allows you to conveniently manage leave, attendance, payroll, and other expenses. Generating payslips for your employees is now easy as the platform also digitizes and automates HR processes.

Deskera People
Try Deskera For Your Business
Sign Up For Free Trial!

Key Takeaways

A mentor can help you grow exponentially in your professional and personal life. Bring reasonable expectations for the role and a desire to work hard for the partnership. Although the positive impact of a mentor's guidance and wisdom may not be felt for several years, you will eventually recognise it and go on to become a mentor to others.

Mentoring is a semi-structured mentoring system in which one person contributes their knowledge, skills, and experience to help others advance in their lives and careers. Mentors must be voluntarily available and ready to assist as needed - within agreed-upon parameters.

An ideal mentor must:

-align with your thought process,

-let you take the driver’s seat,

- analyze the bigger picture,

- encourages you to put effort,

-listen before jumping to the solving stage

Apart from that, a mentor must build a trust bond for both parties to grow.

Otherwise, it would become a teacher-student relationship which would restrict the flow of receiving the information smoothly, reflection and feedback.

5 Ways to Build a Culture of Transparency
When the employees say things like, “I’d go to hell and back for my boss,” youknow they have a brilliant leader. What are the actions that a leader mustexhibit in order to build that degree of trust and loyalty? Imagine the power of this approach to revolutionize organizations. A leader’sactions…
Google Analytics 101: A Beginner’s Guide
“Do I have to be tech-savvy to conquer the Google Analytics process?” This is the exact thought that popped up in my mind when I planned to learnabout Google Analytics. Despite that concern, I gave it a shot and explored thisintriguing platform. Well, trust me! At first, Google Analytics may see…
Why Could the Least Experienced Candidate Be the Best Person to Hire?
When it’s time to hire someone new to your company, do you prioritizeexperience? Or do you value qualities like values, enthusiasm, and other softskills in a candidate? Whether you and your organization want to employ on the basis of experience orraw talent, there are a few things to keep in min…

Hey! Try Deskera Now!

Everything to Run Your Business

Get Accounting, CRM & Payroll in one integrated package with Deskera All-in-One.

Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Deskera Blog
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
You've successfully subscribed to Deskera Blog
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content
Success! Your billing info has been updated
Your billing was not updated