How to be a good mentor
“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” I personally think this is a little unfair to some of the amazing educators I’ve had throughout my life. But the saying is right in one regard: being great at doing something and being great at teaching it are very different skills.
That doesn’t mean that great mentors have to be born that way, but it does mean that even successful entrepreneurs often have to learn new skills before they can become effective advisors. We have some idea of how to tell if your mentor isn’t up to par, but what can mentors do to become better?
1. Are you meeting your goals?
Get into a position where your work can speak for itself. “A good way to figure out if you’re being a good mentor is to give yourself some sense of goals,” If the mentor-mentee duo has been working together for over six months, and the entrepreneur is still achieving or gaining anything, that’s a sign to take a step back and evaluate everything, including the relationship.Regular check-ins, like one-hour conversations, can help with meeting those goals. Remembering that the responsibility on the mentor is greater than on the mentee. If the mentee doesn’t feel challenged, enabled, or positive enough – or if he or she doesn’t feel a sense of honesty in the relationship – the first thing to look at would be the mentor’s own tactics.
2. Keep the relationship flowing
Good mentoring boiling down to three points – listening, advising, and connecting. All three parts are interconnected. For example, good listening may involve hearing out an entrepreneur, then asking the right questions to continue his or her train of thought.
Mean while, advising may mean taking into account that you’re not the only fly in the ear of the person you’re mentoring. I always recommend having multiple mentors to help a entrepreneur in multiple areas.
3. Stay close, but not too close
The first step to advising someone is to make sure he or she actually wants you there. The second is to make sure that you can actually commit. Always be mindful of one’s real life commitments and to make sure that they don’t clash. A mentor-ship takes trust, which needs time to grow and foster.
Also, make sure you aren’t too personally invested in the entrepreneurs you’re mentoring.
An insider secret:
Let them know what you are working on or planning and ask for specific help or guidance. Remain in the loop of what they are doing and celebrate their successes with them. Make sure friendship comes first; you should be having fun together as well so your relationship isn’t just about work. Grab a fun lunch or dinner, or talk about a shared interest.
As for my experience, I’ve been so thankful for my 4 mentor's. I realize they are people I always gone to when I have new ideas (which is actually how I became an entrepreneur: I shared my expertise on how to be successful as an ambitious young woman, and from there it snowballed into joining and working for the most amazing companies). I have to admit, however, I never expected my mentors to be younger than me, and she certainly does not look like Yoda. But when I look back on the impact she has had on me and the advice she has offered, she is definitely providing mentorship.
4. Think like an Entrepreneur
Meet entrepreneur where they are. Instead of telling them what you see as their point B, come to point A, and talk them up from there.
“Their reality – solve that.” This requires getting to know where the Entrepreneur’ mindset is at and knowing where it is in relation to your own. After you develop that mutual understanding, you can then take the conversation to where you want it to go. “Then, elevate the conversation to how it can be, how “the entrepreneur” should be looking at it,”.From there, you can open the entrepreneur up to new possibilities.
“Mentors come in different shapes and sizes, and you need to recognize that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for all stages “of your startup”. There are different needs within those stages.”
5. Give and share
A positive mentor, in his or her roots, should have a willingness to give and a sharing mindset, But don’t always assume you know best.All in all, keep in mind that there’s always room for improvement.
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