Leaders: How to Choose a Mentor

Mentoring

Mentoring has been a hot topic of discussion amongst leaders. We all know the benefits of mentoring but we are often intrigued by the details.

But what questions should we ask in order to achieve the best outcomes?

Questions about Mentors

These are some of the questions that come to mind when we think about mentoring:

  • How should we go about choosing a mentor.
  • What qualities should we look for in a mentor?
  • Is having a mentor considered that you are still developing as a leader?
  • Or should you have a mentor at any or every stage of your career?
  • How long should a mentoring relationship be?
  • Should I be mentoring someone?

“An effective mentor can have a profound effect on your career.”

A Mentor at Every Stage

I personally feel that having a mentor at every stage of your life is a good thing. It is a sign that you are learning and learning should never stop. You may be at a stage in your career where you could be mentoring people and at the same time have a mentor yourself for whatever skill you aim to acquire.

Mentoring works most effectively when the mentor has a passion for it.

“Before you start looking for a mentor, decide which skill do you want to acquire. Otherwise you could be wasting two people’s time”

Doing Your Homework

Once you have done your homework on which skill you want to acquire, you can start looking for a mentor who has demonstrated proficiency in that field. Someone you have been observing from a distance and are very impressed with or whom you want to emulate.

Remember you don’t have to a be a fan of all their work, just a fan of the skill you want to acquire from them.

Lets take a look at what to look for in a mentor

  • You need to look for a mentor whom you can be comfortable with. This is the most critical piece for the relationship to work.
  • Look for a mentor who is non-judgmental.
  • Your mentor cannot be self-serving. This relationship needs to be about you and not them.
  • If all of the above is true, you can then open up with your mentor and share your strengths and weaknesses and start your mentoring cycle. If you are open with them, you will get the most out of the relationship.

Mentoring and Moving On

Remember there is also a limited lifespan for each mentor-protege relationship. Once you feel like you have achieved your objective, you can let go. Free them and let them mentor someone else in need.

At a later point of time, you may acquire another mentor seeking to acquire another skill.

Should you have more than one mentor at a certain point in your life? I would recommend not, because they may give you conflicting advice and that may slow down your progress.

Mentoring is quite effective and essential for leaders who are constantly sharpening their soft skills. Once you have an effective mentor, you will see that is has a great amount of effect on your development. The trigger has to come from you depending on which skill you seek.

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Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
LinkedIn |  Web | Blog | Twitter | Book

Image Sources: womeninbiz.sbresources.com 

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