When trying to find a good mentor, it can be easy to pick whatever person first comes your way. Ultimately in your search, you want to make sure your prospective mentor has these following qualities, as it will not only make the experience fulfilling for you but also for your mentor!
Expertise or knowledge in relevant field
Though this is an obvious trait to look for, it is nonetheless an important one when finding a mentor that will bring the best out of you. You will want your prospective coach to have a reasonable amount of expertise and knowledge in a field relevant to you and your work. Whether you are more the artsy type, or in a white collar job, choosing someone with relevant knowledge in your industry will help you gain meaningful information, broaden your perspectives, and grow in your field. In addition the shared experience of being in the same field will bring the both of you together, which can only develop your relationship more.
Passion / Enthusiasm for sharing the expertise
Just as it is important for a mentor to be knowledgeable in your industry / field of work, it is also key for a mentor to have a passion and enthusiasm for sharing that knowledge. Some mentors are guilty of being condescending, arrogant, or downright rude in terms of sharing their expertise, leaving the mentee feeling belittled, insignificant, and mistreated. Remember, your goal is to better yourself and grow in your career. If you have a mentor that does anything to make you feel the opposite, he/she is not a good fit for you, and most likely is not a good fit to be a mentor at all.
Empathetic / Understanding attitude
Sure, the mentor can relate to you because you both have similar career backgrounds, but does he/she understand you on a personal level? Do they empathize with the current problems or issues you may be experiencing in your career or life in general? When looking for a good mentor, you want to ensure that they have an empathetic and understanding attitude toward you. This attitude gives you the ability to grow and thrive in each aspect of your life without judgement. Alyse Kalish of The Muse comments on this, stating, “Oftentimes people try to impose their own beliefs or ways of approaching things on others, and this can be a good mentor’s downfall. So find someone you can trust to take your values and input into account over their own.”
Honest and constructive feedback
On the contrary, while you want a mentor that is emphatic and understanding, you also want a someone that can give you honest and constructive feedback, as such is necessary to overcome certain obstacles, change bad behaviors, and ultimately grow as a person and in your career. A good mentor will be respectful, genuine, and always have your best interests in mind. If your mentor suspects you are going down a wrong path or perhaps not making the right choices, they will not hold back in telling you that you’re not doing the right thing in order to preserve your feelings.
Willingness to sponsor you
A mentor’s job is to support and advise you so you can grow and develop your personal and workplace skills. While a mentor is a great person to have in your corner, if your mentor also actively wants to sponsor you, that’s even better. What is the difference between a mentor and a mentor who sponsors you? Better Allies writes in an article from The Muse that sponsors, “vocally support the work of colleagues from underrepresented groups in all contexts, but specifically in situations that will help boost those colleagues’ standing and reputations.”