How To Develop Mentor Traits
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Effective leaders provide their team members with support and guidance throughout their career journey. By being a mentor to those who work under you, you can create a more uplifting and inspiring work environment. Showing that you are a strong mentor can also help you advance your own career and take on new leadership opportunities. In this article, we explain what an effective mentor looks like and share how to develop mentor traits.
What are mentor traits?
Mentor traits are the characteristics you possess that help you provide support and guidance to others. Your role as a mentor is to inspire others to reach their full potential. You can help people grow in their roles with these mentor traits:
Ability to make connections: Strong mentors have the drive to network and connect with others. If you find that you can naturally start a conversation and build professional relationships, you may be an effective mentor.
Willingness to give honest feedback: Those you mentor can benefit from open and honest feedback. You can help others succeed by highlighting what they do well and going over what they need to improve.
Eagerness to motivate: Mentors want others to feel excited about the work they are doing. By finding ways to motivate your mentees, you can help them be more productive and successful in their roles.
Knowledge of your industry: Other professionals may be drawn toward you because you have the wisdom and expertise they are looking for. This is why mentors tend to be people who love learning and are willing to become immersed in a certain industry or specialty.
Respect for everyone: Effective mentors know how to give their mentees honest feedback and advice in a respectful manner. Part of being respectful is to show your admiration for their efforts and find ways to boost their self-esteem.
Desire to uplift others: Mentors can help people reach their goals by presenting opportunities to them. Effective mentors genuinely want to see others succeed and know how to help them find this success.
Related: The Definitive Guide To Mentorship
How to develop mentor traits
Follow these steps to develop your mentor traits:
1. Become a better communicator
A major part of being a helpful mentor is having good communication skills. While effective communication involves being able to clearly convey your thoughts and ideas, it also involves being a good listener. When meeting with your mentees, make an effort to truly understand what they are saying. Before adding your own ideas, let them finish their thoughts. Ask thoughtful follow-up questions to learn more and ensure you fully understand them. Use non-verbal cues, such as eye contact and head nodding, to show that you value what they have to say.
2. Focus on setting goals
As a mentor, you need to emphasize the importance of goal setting. Get started by setting some goals of your own. By acting as a role model, your mentees may decide to set their own personal goals. Help them through the goal-setting process by having them use the SMART method. This means that their goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Using this process can help you and your team members create more realistic goals.
3. Continue learning
Even if you are in a high-level position, there is so much more you can learn throughout your career. By continuing to expand your knowledge and skill set, you can continue to give your mentees the best advice. Showing that life-long learning is important is also a way to inspire those you work with to do the same. Continue to learn by connecting with other professionals, attending educational seminars, enrolling in online or in-person courses, listening to informative podcasts, watching relevant documentaries, following thought-provoking publications and exposing yourself to different life experiences.
4. Help your mentee learn through experience
While it's important to offer your mentee support and guidance, it's also useful to encourage them to make their own decisions. Rather than telling them what to do, let them grow through their own mistakes, successes and experiences. Instead of giving them all the answers, give them the confidence boost they need to take new risks and make meaningful decisions in their career.
5. Be open to feedback
Along with giving others feedback, try to seek out feedback about yourself. Ask your mentees how you can become a better mentor to them. Try to learn what you are doing well and what you can improve. While you have years of wisdom and experience, getting feedback can help you look at your mentorship abilities in a new way. Along with asking your mentees for their feedback, see if someone in a leadership position can give you some advice for improving your mentoring skills.
6. Celebrate success and failure
Learn to be the person your mentee can go to whether they succeed or fail at their goals. If they succeed, give them praise and positive feedback to encourage them to continue to strive for their goals. If they fail, help them work through what they could do better next time. By being someone's number-one advocate, you can help them continue to push themselves to grow.
7. Help others overcome barriers
Having the desire to uplift others is one of the most important mentor traits. When working in a leadership position, you have the professional connections and leverage people in lower-level positions need to succeed. If you know one of your mentees would be a good fit for a job opportunity, try to find ways to vouch for them. Be the person who is willing to advocate for those who are experiencing challenges and obstacles in their career. Show your mentees that you want to help them achieve great things by introducing them to the right opportunities.
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