Four Main Roles of an Effective Mentor

How to find or be an effective mentor

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One of the personal growth methods from my book, The Little Book of Personal Growth is coaching and mentorship. In the section I described what a mentor does. A mentor:

  • Works with you on a variety of different topics or areas.
  • Works with a person for a long period of time, so they can help you in the different areas of your life or work.
  • Is relationship oriented.
  • Focuses on the skills you need now and those you will need in the future.

A good mentor can move you toward your leadership position. This is why I believe every leader should find and regularly meet with a mentor. The mentorship process should not stop with you being mentored; it should be the catalyst for you to start mentoring those on your team. Being mentored allows you to be full of energy, motivation, and wisdom which you can then share with other people, through mentoring. Whether you want to find a mentor or be an effective mentor you should consider these four main roles.

Role #1 Mentors help identifying key areas in your life

Effective mentors provide an outside perspective about your life and leadership. In The Next Generation Leader, Author Andy Stanley said, “You may be good, you may be even better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be.” Mentors should have the ability to look into your life and work to spot key areas you might not be able to see yourself, the areas you should be highlighting or improving in. They assist you in identifying your strengths, weakness, talents, and the potential possibilities of what you can become and achieve. All of this is to help you become the best version of yourself.

Role #2 Mentors encourage you

Effective mentors support and encourage you. Leadership is similar to a roller coaster: It’s full of ups, downs, bumps, spirals, and curves all while going fast. The fast pace of leadership can leave you emotionally drained and exhausted. Mentors stand beside you during the different seasons of leadership providing you with hope and encouragement. Since mentors often work with you for a long period of time they have the ability to know you and the type of inspiration and encouragement you need, at just the right time. This primarily comes from the solid relationship you have between each other.

Role #3 Mentors assist in your growth

Charles “Tremendous” Jones states, “The difference between who you are today and who you will be in five years will be the people you spend time with and the books you read.” Mentors are crucial when it comes to remaining productive and effective in your leadership role. A good mentor sparks and encourages your growth. One of the results of mentorship should be your skill levels in specific areas are sharpened and developed. This is done when the mentor freely shares their knowledge and experiences with you so you improve your own leadership. They also should talk with you and recommend the skills or areas you should improve in and the growth methods you should be applying.

Role #4 Mentors stretch you

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be” and I would include to achieve what we think is impossible. You will never achieve your potential unless someone is stretching you outside of your comfort zone. Effective mentors stretch us to be and do more than what we are currently doing. They stir us out of our normal routine and into new realms of thinking and behavior. Lastly mentors know when to encourage us and when to stretch us or give us a firm kicking in the rear to get going.

Questions: Can you add to the list? What are some other main roles of an effective mentor? How have you been impacted by being or having a mentor?

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  • This part is so key: “a Mentor…works with a person for a long period of time.” Intergenerational relationships especially take time, time it feels many people are unwilling or unable to make. My passion is for mentorship and intergenerational relationship in the church, and an old mentor once told me that the work of ministry can be so all-consuming that the relationship element takes a back seat. Have you found this to be true in organizations? That which is most powerful and sustainable is also the most time-intensive. Will be sharing this article. Thanks Dan!

    • Hello Zach,

      It’s all about relationships! Taking time to build and maintain the relationships with those I lead (at my work) are so crucial. It creates people who want to work and be productive. Thank you for adding your thoughts to the discussion.