What does it take to be a GREAT mentor? Such a great question and one that comes up time and time again. A mentor is someone who has traveled the path before you and can guide you along the way!
What is the difference between actual mentoring and coaching?
The really GREAT mentors, teachers and coaches do what they do because they LOVE to do it first and foremost. They have a desire and passion to make a difference in people’s lives. Some may love it so much, they would do it for free just look at how many home-schooling parent educators choose to teach their children for no financial pay? They do it out of LOVE not for the paycheck. Great mentors are Servant Leaders, Servant meaning to contribute, make a difference, (not as in slave, servant).
Mentoring vs Coaching What is the difference?
Coaching is usually for a fee, clients invest in their growth, performance and short and long term goals and decide to work with a coach for a fee. Generally Mentoring is complimentary, meaning people who choose to mentor, generally do so as a way to contribute and give back. Choosing to share their knowledge, skills, lessons and experience in a particular field or subject to help another. Their drive is contribution and making a difference.
Is it possible to be both a coach and a mentor?
In my coaching practice, I help clients to improve their lives, business and careers while helping them to sense and feel even greater levels of joy, happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment helping them to improve their lives and unlock their potential. I am also excited, grateful and blessed to giveback and contribute also as a mentor for The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship with Virgin Unite.
What does it take to be a great mentor and how do you spot the difference?
What are some of the attributes, characteristics and qualities that make for a great mentor?
Certainly I believe ALL great mentors share a few things in common, they are avid learners, always striving to grow, to learn, to be better and they surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are. (IF they are fortunate to get around them). Certainly great mentors are also great listeners, they are humble, they have humility and they all have a deep passion and caring for helping other people to succeed in life to reach and live their dreams and goals in life. They also care about making a difference and contributing!
Being able to find a great mentor also means spotting a not so great mentor, and recognizing the difference.
Recognizing what a great mentor is, is knowing, sensing and seeing what a great mentor is NOT! How else can we tell the difference?
We have all met or know or have known someone who we decided, for whatever reason was not a good mentor, not a good fit for us. Perhaps their air of arrogance turned you off. Maybe they used their seniority and positional power to intimidate you in someway. Maybe they spoke down to you and made rude or derogatory remarks about you or inappropriate comments to you. We are not talking about being direct or giving you honest feedback, we are talking about someone being downright rude or mean or cruel to you.
Maybe the root of their behavior stems from them being intimidated or threatened by your talent and so they sadly tried to or even succeeded in sabotaging you, gossiping or spreading rumors about you behind your back, saying things that were not true about you, just to inflate themselves and their own self importance and ego. The acted out of fear guarding their own position. We all have known, met or know someone like this or have met them in the workplace. Certainly people who behave this way are NOT great mentor material. Sadly many supervisors turn a blind eye to this sort of behavior, they don’t always want to look at the truth of what’s happening in their unit. This prevents good people from succeeding while others get ahead often with less talent.
Sadly, those who behave that way, do not have your best intentions at heart, they are only concerned with their own self serving needs and perhaps they feel insecure around such talent and they behave this way, in fear of their own position so instead they try to cause you harm.
This would not be someone I recommend you work with as a mentor! I once met a woman like this who was very rude and condescending and thought that by speaking down to me she could elevate herself. Such a huge turn off. She also struck me as someone who was not sincere, very fake and was only out for herself, certainly, not someone I would ever want to be mentored by.
Let’s move on and focus our attention to:
What is a GREAT Mentor?
I believe just as a men-tee can learn a lot from a mentor, a mentor can also learn from a men tee! (There is a sense of humility here, because even great mentors realize they too can always learn something new).
1. Accessibility: A great mentor is someone who is accessible. Someone who sees a flame and spark of talent or brilliance in you. Perhaps someone they would like to work more closely with or even partner with. A great mentor, is someone who wants to genuinely nurture that spark and talent within you, to help you achieve your dreams and goals in life. Of course as a men-tee, your enthusiasm, attitude and willingness and excitement to learn and grow is key to the relationship! A great mentor is not concerned with what you can do for them, they are not self seeking, seeing you as a business transaction, no, they are not there to “use” you and take from you, or to take advantage of you or worst yet, to steal your material or idea’s, no they don’t need to do that, because they are far ahead already, they succeeded on their own merit, efforts and support from others not because they trampled all over people to get where they are. Their intent is to help you, not themselves.
2. Caring: A great mentor is caring. They are compassionate and empathetic. They care to help you, they don’t help those only who can afford to pay them. (They believe in no child left behind) thinking! They help those who have and show real talent. They have an authentic desire to help and guide and show the way. They genuinely seek to help others, to pass along their knowledge and wisdom and for the purpose of helping to improve the lives of others. Your mentor has walked the path you desire to travel and they are or have been successful in this particular area.
3. Confident: A great mentor is confident. They are not intimidated by someone who has a lot of talent. They are way too secure with themselves to worry so. Rather they are excited to help and guide such talent, often as a way to contribute, to make a difference in someone’s life. To be a confidant, someone who can be confided in, whose opinion matters and realizing just how valuable their opinion and feedback are to their men-tee). As a men-tee you know that even just a few minutes of time with the right mentor, a mentor you choose, could shave years of your learning curve, IF you are lucky enough to be able to speak with them or meet in person one to one.
It’s amazing how far a person, a men-tee and or student can go when they have the right support and mentors and teachers in place. The value of that support system is incredibly important. The value of a quick call or text can make a whole world of difference to an enthusiastic and passionate men-tee, it can absolutely mean the world to them. Who knows even the mentor could benefit greatly too or learn something new? There could even be some great long term partnership opportunities for the future.
Just as every child needs a champion, a teacher who believes in them, who is there for them, every men-tee needs a mentor so no one is left behind…
Unfortunately there are mentors who will only mentor you for a fee. That’s tough, especially if you are the kind of men-tee that has the drive, passion, enthusiasm, attitude, willingness to learn and a deep desire to make a difference, and talent and skill but sadly without the funds, certain mentors are no where to be seen and you could find yourself upstream without a paddle. You could end up, being a men-tee left behind, no matter your talent or skill set.
“People succeed when others want them too” there is some truth in that!
Unfortunately there are men-tee’s that do get left behind. All because they don’t meet the financial criteria. Their talent, skills, brilliance and ideas go under nourished or worst yet stolen by others. The worst part for a men tee, is reaching up and reaching out only to be ignored.
I think of the many home-school educators, parents who stay home to teach their children for no pay. They do it out of love for their children, their love for teaching and for less than our teachers are being paid in our schools today.
Every child needs a champion and every men-tee needs a mentor!
So what are your thoughts?
What do you think it takes to be a GREAT mentor?
Do you have a great mentor in your life we should know about?
Janet I Mueller is the CEO of J Mueller Group. She passionately serves and helps her clients and audiences to unlock and achieve their full potential, raise their self-esteem through personal growth and leadership development. Helping leaders to become excellent leaders through practice and philosophy of servant leadership. Janet is a mom, educator, executive coach, speaker and published author. Coming soon, her new book “The Blossoming – A Leader’s Guide 10 Keys To Unlocking Your Blooming Potential”. Author of “A Champion’s Guide To Thriving Beyond Breast Cancer”Janet is an advocate for women and girls and member of RAINN the largest national anti sexual assault organization. She is hired to speak on personal growth, leadership development and self-esteem.
To work with Janet or hire her as a speaker for your event please inquire here: firstname.lastname@example.org