Malcolm Gladwell famously quoted a 1993 study which posited that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master a skill – be it the violin, a sport or a job. That translates into roughly five full years of forty-hour work-weeks to comfortably be in the position of understanding the general ins and outs of your chosen profession.
Only when one understands their profession and has some idea about why what they have been doing has been successful, should they take on the responsibility of becoming a mentor. Being a mentor is a cross between an honour, and a duty to pay forward the help received over when you were starting out.
Good Mentors Guide For Growth
The role of any effective mentor is to first and foremost understand that their role is to help their mentee grow and mature in the job they are in, and as a human being in general. Guiding a person through the minefield of corporate culture, all the while being a neutral sounding board might make you feel more like a parent than a friend, but that is precisely how competent mentors approach their responsibility.
Good Mentors Ask More Questions Than They Answer
A powerful tool that the most effective mentors use is a version of Socratic questioning: asking specific questions at appropriate times to ensure that their mentees are paying attention to behaviours, alliances, and the protocols that surround them in the business world. By asking more questions than you answer, you will be giving your mentee the tools to begin to critically observe the goings-on around them. This is a powerful skill to cultivate, as you won’t always be around to help your mentee clarify company politics in times of confusion or stress.
Good Mentors Don’t Expect Undying Loyalty
While a mentor may hope to impart the wisdom gained through their experience at work and in life, a truly impressive mentor understands that every mentee will eventually have to find their own path of success. Just because you have dedicated your time and efforts towards a less experienced person does not mean that they must follow in your footsteps and emulate your business journey. Good mentors give their advice, friendship and good wishes freely and without expectation of anything in return.