Empower, Engage, Excel: 6 Essential Skills For Successful Mentorship | CBCC News

Successful Mentorship

Empower, Engage, Excel: 6 Essential Skills For Successful Mentorship | CBCC News

Take a moment and think back to the best mentor you’ve ever had.

Maybe it was a boss who always knew just what to say, a colleague who stood by you, a parent who guided you, a friend who pushed you to be your best, a coach who never gave up on you, or a professor who saw your potential.

Fast forward to today, and here you are, ready to be that person for someone else. It’s exciting, right? But also, maybe you’re feeling a bit unsure about how to cultivate a successful mentorship.

The CBCC is here to help. With this article, we will discuss what exactly is mentorship, the difference between mentorship and leadership, and what 6 skills are essential for a successful mentorship.

So, whether you’re stepping into a mentorship role for the first time or looking to up your game, join us as we explore how to make your mentorships as rewarding as possible.

Successful Mentorship

What is a Mentor?

The first question to answer is, what exactly is a mentor?

A mentor is someone who has the experience and knowledge to help guide their mentee through their personal and professional journey. A mentor has been there and done that, and as they get to know their mentee, they can give tailored advice and resources and help their mentees tackle any hurdles that come their way.

At its essence, a mentor is a personal cheerleader and advisor rolled into one. The very best mentors are there for their mentees, offering a helping hand or a listening ear, in a way that always has their mentees’ best interests at heart.

In fact, a successful mentorship is a two-way street, thanks to something called reverse mentoring. One well-known example of reverse mentoring is Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, who paired 500 of his top executives with junior associates. The purpose of this? As the junior associates gained industry insights and knowledge from the executives, the executives learnt how to use the internet and new technologies from their associate mentees.

The best part? Anyone with a bit of experience under their belt can step into these shoes and become a mentor.

Is Leadership and Mentorship the same?

There is a common misconception that leadership and mentorship are the same. Many people believe that a great leader can also be a great mentor.

However, being a top-notch leader doesn’t automatically make you a mentor extraordinaire. Yes, a lot of mentors are leaders because they’ve got years of experience and wisdom under their belt. But many of the skills that make a great leader and the skills that make a great mentor are completely opposite.

Let’s first define what a leader is. Leadership primarily involves making decisive choices, influencing others, and swiftly addressing challenges. Leaders excel by recognising and nurturing the unique talents and aspirations of their team members, adapting their strategies to maximise individual and collective success.

Mentorship, on the other hand, demands a profound level of patience and comprehension. A mentor’s role centres on supporting mentees in achieving their personal objectives, which may be substantially different from the mentor’s own goals. Through earning their mentees’ trust and respect, mentors guide them on a journey of continuous learning and self-improvement.

So, yes, whilst some leaders are also fantastic mentors, it’s not a given. The roles of leader, coach, or even supporter are separate and distinct from being a mentor, and they contribute in different ways to an individuals development. Recognising and respecting these differences is one of the keys in encouraging meaningful growth and developing a successful mentorship.

Successful Mentorship

6 Essential Elements To Be A Successful Mentor

Before we launch into the top 6 essential elements that make for a successful mentorship, it’s important to recognise that excelling as a mentor involves a continuous journey of learning and adaptation. You need to be truly dedicated to the mentee’s well-being and professional advancement. You need to want to share with them your knowledge and wisdom. And most importantly, you need to be able to create an environment of trust and open communication so that your mentee is empowered to achieve their full potential.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, what are the 6 elements needed for a successful mentorship?

Effective Communication

At the heart of mentorship lies effective communication: being clear, listening actively, and giving feedback that builds up.

It is important to tune into your mentee’s needs and really hearing them out. Often, many people who find themselves in a position of teaching and guidance feel obliged to talk a lot to share their knowledge. However, successful mentorship is more about discovering where your mentee is, and then helping them find their own way to realisation and progress. Instead of spending 80% of your time talking to your mentee, try switching it around to 80% listening and see how that changes your mentorship dynamic.

Pay attention to how you come across. Is your energy high level and overwhelming? Do your professional achievements affect how intimidated or awestruck your mentee may be by your presence?

Most of all, effectively communicate with your own thoughts. Mentorship should feel like a calling, not just another task on your to-do list. Make sure you’ve got the space in your life for it. If you don’t feel like you have the time and energy for it, it is okay to respectfully end your mentorship instead of trying to stretch yourself too thin. You and your mentee will thank you for it.

Empathy and Active Listening

Empathy is essential in helping you understand where your mentee is coming from and building a strong, supportive bond. Listen to their struggles, and share your own ups and downs. By doing that, you are giving advice whilst building trust and showing it’s okay to be vulnerable.

When you are sharing and giving advice though, be sure not to fall into the trap of saying “If I were you, I’d do this,” because you’re not them. Instead, use your stories to show them how you navigated similar waters, but make it clear that it is their path to carve out, not yours to relive.

This approach helps mentees see that you truly understand what they’re going through and opens up a space for genuine conversation and guidance.

Patience and Support

When the going gets tough for your mentee, your patience and support is what will help your mentee keep going.

This is especially important when we link it to the previous point of not giving your mentee advice, but rather guiding them to navigate and reach a solution themselves. Learning to reframe your thoughts in a way that is supportive and constructive for your mentee can take time, but the end results will be more than worth it.

However, it is important to remember that this doesn’t equate to staying silent and waiting for your mentee to find their own solutions. In the end, a mentor is a guide. Be a mentor who can clear the fog and help your mentee navigate through the unknown with honesty and insight and always tell the truth to spark the kind of growth that takes your mentee further, even when it’s tough to hear.

Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations

It may feel awkward, but setting clear boundaries and expectations from the very beginning is crucial to a successful mentorship. Be clear about what you are here to do and how you will help your mentee to keep things professional and focused.

Encourage your mentee to be upfront about what they need or want. Do they want advice, or do they want help with networking? From there, set goals with your mentee to decide how often you meet, lay down ground rules to ensure productive discussions, or even set up a shared document to help you track progress and reflections.

Remember, every mentorship is unique, so finding out if you’re both on the same page is key to a successful mentorship.

Guidance and Feedback

Navigating a successful mentorship means offering thoughtful guidance and feedback that genuinely helps your mentee grow.

Linking back to being an active listener, learn when to give advice, and when it is best to listen. If you need a moment to think about how to give your mentee advice, don’t be ashamed to take that moment, as long as you are transparent about it. It is better to slow down and make sure your advice is relevant and accurate than say something impulsively just because you feel pressured to have instant answers for your mentee all the time.

Make the feedback a two-way stream. Give your mentee opportunities to regularly give you feedback on how your mentorship is going and if there are any areas of improvement. This will strengthen your mentor-mentee relationship and result in a truly successful mentorship.

Stay Flexible

Just as your day-to-day can change in the blink of an eye, so can your mentee.

Recognise that each mentee comes with their own set of dreams, challenges, and ways of soaking up knowledge, and learn to customise your mentorship to fit their style, such as tweaking your communication style, aligning with their learning preferences, or helping them chase down those career aspirations. It might take a while to learn what works best, but it will be worth every second.

As you both dive into the mentorship, stay true to the boundaries that you set at the beginning, but also give space for your mentee to put their stamp on what they need from this partnership. The effort you invest early on is going to set you both up for a winning and successful mentorship.

Ultimately, becoming a great mentor will take practice and patience. As you teach and guide your mentee, so too will you teach and guide yourself into being a better mentor. At the core, stay self-aware and learn what works for you with your natural personality and how it resonates with different mentees.

You may find that being a mentor is as rewarding an experience for you as it will be for your mentees.

Keen to find out for yourself? Sign up to be a BRAVE mentor here.

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Written by Collappor8
Collappor8 - Business Redesigned. We’re a one-stop-shop for businesses that need a strategy, and people to execute those strategies. Call us when you're ready to make real changes!

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