Mentors have been valued highly throughout history. The relationship between a mentor and mentee is one that is built on trust, respect and appreciation. Typically, a mentor is someone who knows something their mentee doesn’t, and they are willing to pass on what they know to their mentee. A mentor is usually very generous with their experience, knowledge and resources, and often has a high regard for the person they are mentoring.
The role of a mentor is to help their mentee grow and develop, both personally and professionally. A mentor is willing to challenge the mentee to take risks, dream lofty dreams and go beyond what they thought was possible for them. Unless there is a high level of trust in the relationship, the chances are the relationship won’t be as powerful as it could be. For anyone wanting to be become a mentor, the question is, “How do you become a trusted mentor?”
Here are five ways to become a trusted mentor so that a win-win relationship can be created which ultimately can be a very satisfying experience for both. The suggested ways are for a one-to-one mentor/mentee relationship.
- Avoid trying to impress. It can be very tempting for a mentor to try and impress their mentee with all their knowledge, experience and achievements. While being able to prove one’s credibility is important, most people are turned off by someone who is constantly boasting or gloating about who they are and what they have done. People relate better to those who are genuine, authentic and just like them. Rather than trying to be impressive, coming from a space of being of service to the mentee will develop more respect and result in a higher level of trust.
- Be vulnerable. Rather than always sharing stories of success and achievement, sharing experiences of failure and set-backs can be more valuable to the mentee. Having the confidence to share mistakes, poor judgement or decisions is often more relatable than stories of success. People find stories of struggle a lot more valuable simply because they want to know that success is also possible for them. Often, the biggest lessons in life are learnt from failures and mistakes.
- Listen without judgement. There are times when the greatest insight for a mentee will occur when they are speaking without the mentor needing to do or say anything. The key to a great relationship is knowing when to speak and when to listen. When a mentor is talking out loud their situation or challenge, it is often enough for them to be able to come up with a next step or acquire the clarity they are looking for. A great mentor will spend more time listening than they will be speaking.
- Keep agreements. Nothing erodes trust more than going against your word or failing to keep an agreement. A simple rule should be not to promise anything you cannot deliver. Promising to offer a resource or to connect the mentee with someone and failing to do so can have a devastating effect on the relationship which may be difficult to repair. Before starting the mentor-mentee relationship, both parties must be truly committed and value each other’s time highly.
- Be a positive role model. While it can be easy for a mentor to motivate and tell the mentee what to do, walking their talk is a lot more challenging. Similar to the previous point, leading by example will develop a higher level of with the mentee once they are able to see that the mentor is also doing what they have asked the mentee to do. Sharing stories is a powerful way to keep the relationship engaging and fun. Whenever challenges arise, a great mentor will always look for something positive in the situation. A mentor should abide by the creed of “Do as I do, not just as I say.”
To be a trusted mentor, you have to care about the mentee, know enough about their person life and be honest at all times. Being able to mentor someone is a privilege and honour. The experience can be very rewarding for both involved and result in a bond that is built on respect and trust.
Question: What are some other ways to become a trusted mentor?
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