So you want to turn the tide and be a mentor? How would you go about that? Will you tell people what to do and how to do it? Of course not! As a mentor you’re not their boss, but a person who comes alongside and guides. But how do you do that? Great that you asked, I’ve written all about it here.
Being a mentor is more than being a person who encourages others, you are like a guide to them. I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring quite a number of people both pastorally and academically. In all instances, I found that if I just encouraged people once, they just felt overwhelmed. If I actively guided them, however, they would find their way themselves eventually. Remember, guiding is not telling people what to do, it is just pointing them in the right direction.
Being a mentor requires great listening skills. Without the ability to listen to people without jumping in to tell them how to fix or solve it, you can’t be a mentor.
Search for a heart connection. You can’t be a mentor if you don’t understand the thoughts and motivations of the person you’re trying to coach. You need to view, respect and understand them as the person that they are.
Care for the person you are trying to mentor. If you don’t care about them as a person and about how they’re doing in life, you may as well just employ them and be their boss, or fire them and not deal with them at all. You wouldn’t care either way anyway. A mentoring relationship is a caring relationship.
Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand their viewpoint, their frustrations or excitement. Think back to the time when you were sitting on their side of the conversation. How did the world look like to you back then? You need this viewpoint before you can guide them further beyond it.
A mentoring relationship is a caring relationship.
Think of strategies how to guide them beyond the point they’re at. Will you encourage them to think outside the box? Will you take them on a road trip to show them different places and vantage points? Or do you let them talk through their thought process and, with just a few questions, have them find their way beyond it themselves? These are all legitimate mentoring strategies. They all have in common, that you make them think differently without forcing them.
Be available. Don’t think of all the other tasks you need to do after catching up with them. Don’t worry about other business that still needs your attention. Don’t just leave it with a single catch-up and one email, after which you lose touch. Be genuinely available, present in the moment when you meet them, and always ready to follow up.
You make them think differently without forcing them.
Make time. Being available is more than just being present to them, it is also about taking the time to see them or speak to them. Being a mentor is probably the best thing you could do with your time, other than spending it with your family. You multiply yourself in other people, passing down wisdom, skills, experiences and your passion. A better investment of your time, I can’t think of, so make time!
Practice these things and you will find out that the relationship will guide itself. You’ll be a great mentor and the people you guide will benefit greatly.
This article is part of the series Mentors Wanted: We All Need Mentors