In my work with senior leaders, I've noticed that the most exceptional leaders can point to mentors who made all the difference in their lives and careers. That's true in my life too - I dedicated my book Leaders Open Doors to five leaders who changed my life. Here's what I think you should look for in a mentor:
R E S P E C T: Look for someone that others respect. A mentor should be someone who can be looked up to as a role model of the company’s values and ideals. The mentor should be known for his or her integrity and character. If you cannot respect the mentor, you will not learn from them.
CONTENT DRAGON: A mentor should know the business and the business strategy inside out. He or she should also be someone who has so much depth of knowledge, in at least one aspect of the business, to be considered an expert...otherwise known as a Content Dragon!
BROCCOLI POINTER: A mentor is someone who points out embarrassing things about how you are “showing up” at work. Think of it this way, if you came back from lunch with broccoli in your teeth, a mentor wouldn’t be shy about pointing it out! You want your mentor to tell you the hard and embarrassing details. A mentor who is not willing to be honest ultimately doesn’t serve you or your growth.
INDEPENDENT LOYALIST: While a mentor is someone who is loyal to the company, he shouldn’t have drunken so much of the organizational happy-juice that he can’t think independently. He or she should be able to maintain some objectivity. Pick a mentor who has a mind of his own.
STORYTELLERS: A great mentor is a master storyteller. When you’re struggling with an issue, your mentor should willingly (and colorfully) share a story about a similar struggle that he or she faced in the past. Storytelling is a powerful learning tool, and your mentor should take advantage of it!
LIFELONG LEARNER: Pick a mentor who has a passion for learning. People who are curious about how things work and who constantly strive to be better leaders themselves understand the importance of continuous development. The business environment is constantly changing no matter what industry you work in. You want a leader who is committed to learning, adapting, and growing.
Leaders need mentors to help them continue to grow. These are a few of the characteristics that great mentors have.
About the Author
Bill Treasurer is founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting (GLC), a courage-building company that exists to help people and organizations live more courageously. He is the bestselling author of Leaders Open Doors, Courage Goes to Work, Right Risk, and the Courageous Leadership workshop. Learn more at http://billtreasurer.com.