Becoming a mentor to someone and watching their success grow is one of the greatest joys of being a leader. The ability to share your knowledge and experience with others can be a valuable learning tool for you, the mentor, just as much as the protege. Learning to become an amazing mentor is worth every second of your time.
In fact, at Evil Genius, we believe that one of the most important responsibilities as today’s leaders is to develop the leaders of tomorrow.
Surprisingly to some, mentoring is actually an active role – it’s not simply a passive supervision of someone newer than you, where you’re just ‘checking in’ to see how things are going. True mentorship is based on developing a sincere rapport with a protege, and taking the time to learn their professional and personal goals while earnestly helping them build their way towards success.
How to Become a Mentor That Makes a Difference
What does it take to become an amazing mentor? Let’s take a closer look into some of the elements of meaningful mentorship. Put together, these tips will help you become an unforgettable and valuable part of someone’s own personal or professional development.
Create a Great Rapport
Let’s start with rapport, because it’s one of those fundamental aspects of effective mentorship – without which, mentorship would not be nearly as successful. Developing a genuine interest in your protege’s success and taking the time to learn about their short- and long-term goals is a big part of creating rapport that works. A true mentorship-protege relationship is a reciprocal one, and that rapport builds the foundation for success.
Recognize what your protege wants
Everyone has the same basic needs and wants: to be heard and involved is one of them. It’s safe to say that most people want to be included, but that inclusion looks different for everyone. Take the time to find out a few specifics about how your protege works and what tools and techniques will work best for them. Everyone’s expectations are different, so take the time to learn what your protege wants so you can develop a mentorship process that will benefit them. For more on how to develop a mentorship process that will work with your millenial protege, click this link.
Be a Coach
Your protege will likely have some fresh ideas of their own, testing out the edges of a skill or role that’s new but exciting. Coaching your protege through the newness means embracing new and not fully formed ideas, so rather than just say no, coach your proteget through the idea process. Explain the areas that need further development, the strategies they need to know to make their idea come to life, etc. – then, let them come back with progress made. This also builds both their knowledge base and their experience.
Develop Strengths and Overcome Weaknesses
Everyone has a different set of strengths and weaknesses. Part of being an amazing mentor means recognizing the strengths and improving the weaknesses. What unique, special aspect of your protege’s talent can be brought out and built up? What are some potential weaknesses that need some constructive development? Share your stories of struggle so they can use those lessons in their own journey.
Pass Knowledge and Wisdom to your Protege
Your experience is valuable – and taking the time to share it through being a mentor is one of the most rewarding moments of leadership. Showing your protege how to do something, or sharing what you learned along the way, is the key to keeping it an unforgettable mentorship – one that can only be uniquely experienced by you and your protege.
Give objectives and not paths
If you’re coaching a protege through something that involves a lot of learning, it’s a good idea to give objectives and guidance that mesh well with their goals. Avoid the temptation to set a direct path, otherwise your protege will lose the experience of having to think on their feet. You can do what I call ‘Vector checks,’ which is a mid-way check in case anything needs to be corrected mid-stream.
Be flexible where you can
Even the most supportive mentor sometimes gets too dogmatic when it comes to coaching. Look for opportunities to be flexible where you can. If your protege is struggling to understand something or work through a problem, allow for new ideas and directions to pop up in helping them better understand and go from there. If one way isn’t working, try another way. It can be exciting for both you and your protege to learn something new in your ability to be flexible.
Understand the Psychology of Motivation
What motivates your protege? Taking the time to learn this is another key aspect of becoming an amazing mentor. There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic, and everyone responds to both. External rewards refer to money, bonus, time off, etc. – something we all want or need. However, internal rewards, like the personal satisfaction from a job well done, are just as important. By understanding your protege’s personal motivation factors, you can coach a lot more effectively. Follow this link to learn more about the types of motivation.
Appeal to the Intrinsic Motivation
Everyone can take a moment to identify their “why,” and what makes them take the path that they’re taking. Understanding the internal rewards that come from their experiences – like the feeling of a job well done or the pride of overcoming a tough learning curve – gives you bigger insight into what makes your protege tick. This will help make your mentorship goals and plans more relevant to them specifically.
Use Extrinsic Motivation
Recognition and positive feedback are essential during any learning process, and mentorship is no different. Be creative! Incentivize the values that you’re building – whether that means giving the protege a larger role or responsibility, participating in new groups and organizations, or something more material. Encouragement can take many forms, so make sure it’s a part of your mentorship style.
Seek Out Diversity
Finding a protege from a background different from your own means that you’ll be able to build a better understanding of other perspectives, and that will strengthen all your future leadership roles. Developing rapport and genuinely taking an interest in the success of someone radically different from you is necessary for unity, and that is something we all want a little more of these days.
Amazing Mentors Develop the Leaders of Tomorrow
There’s no doubt that you will grow as a leader through the art of becoming a mentor for someone else. Passing your knowledge and wisdom to the new generation is a rewarding experience, and we believe that it’s the responsibility of great leaders of today to develop the leaders of tomorrow. To learn more about mentorship from Evil Genius Leadership, follow this link.
For more guidance on great leadership techniques to take your leadership journey to the next level, head to Evil Genius Leadership Consultants for weekly or bi-weekly coaching packages that are tailored to your own unique needs. We offer a free initial consultation so you can spend an hour with one of our coaches and discover if Evil Genius Leadership coaching is right for you.