5 Desirable Attributes to Look for in a Quality Mentor

Wanted: Quality Mentor Red Sign

In our previous post, we talked about the potential benefits of having a mentor. Regardless of your career level, it’s beneficial to have a mentor.

But you may be asking: How do I find a mentor? Sometimes a mentor is someone you work for or with or it can be a family member, friend, or professor. Often times you discover a potential mentorship by interacting with that person, but sometimes it can be set up through an organization. As you are seeking a potential mentor, there are some attributes or characteristics you should look for in order to get the most out of the relationship.

5 Traits that Make a Mentor Worth Having

1. Potential mentor indicates a willingness to become a mentor. This may seem obvious, but a mentorship requires willingness from both parties involved. Some individuals may not have an interest in being a mentor to someone else. There can be a variety of reasons for this, but as you are seeking out a mentor, it should be someone who is familiar with the set-up and seems to possess a natural inclination towards acting as a mentor.

2. Potential mentor has time to devote to being a mentor. Since being a mentor is normally done on a volunteer basis, you should ensure that your potential mentor has the time to spend speaking with you and imparting information. Even if the individual is a busy person, they may be able to make time if they consider it a priority. One way to confirm accessibility is to decide on an agreed-upon amount of time and frequency that you will meet.

3. Potential mentor understands and acknowledges the value of mentorship. If someone doesn't see the value in something, it may be difficult to convince them, which is definitely not a task you want to undertake when it comes to a potential mentor. It’s wise to choose an individual who is aware of the benefits of mentorship, even if they know it by a different name (apprenticeship, advisorship, coaching, protégé/patron, etc.). Particularly since this is a volunteer scenario, it helps if the mentor is personally motivated by knowing what it can mean to the person being mentored.

4. Potential mentor has a teaching spirit. This does not mean that the mentor must be a teacher by profession; rather, it means they are willing to impart to someone else their knowledge and expertise achieved through years of first-hand experience. Some people are naturally good at this, while others are not. Even if the potential mentor is not the best at teaching others, as long as they have a willingness to help and assist, they may still be a good choice.

5. Potential mentor is a good listener. As the person being mentored, you expect to do a lot of listening. But when you’re considering individuals as a potential mentor, one of the most important things you can look at is whether the person is a good listener. A mentor may act as a sounding board, confidant, and collaborator, so you want someone who will not only talk, but also listen to what you have to say. Having someone listen to you is also a sign that they respect you. Giving someone your full attention is another sign of regard and care.

There are many other desirable traits that quality mentors possess, but these are the most vital. A mentoring relationship could end up being one of the most important in your career, so you want to take the time to choose an individual who is the right fit for you and your situation.

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