How to Choose a Mentor

The benefits of having a mentor are big. A survey of Fortune 500 companies found that 96% of executives credited mentoring as an important development tool and 75% said mentoring played a key role in their career success.

But how do you get a mentor?

Many employees and managers complain about not having a mentor. Such people are usually waiting for the company to assign a mentor to them. Mentoring works much better when the mentee takes responsibility for choosing a mentor.

So, the first place to start is to find one yourself! Below are some characteristics of great mentors:

Respect: 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 and who understands the culture of the organization, its practices and the strategies needed to negotiate them. Additionally, it should be someone that you want to assist you in planning and achieving your career goals.

Broccoli Pointer: A mentor is someone who is capable of pointing 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!

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. Pick a mentor who has a mind of his or her own.

There for You: Find a mentor who will be available to meet with you regularly. Regular meetings will help to not only build a relationship, but will also enable you and your mentee to address topics on an on-going basis. Create a schedule. Consider meeting every month or two (sooner if you’re experiencing particularly tough work challenges).

Expert in Their Field: Your mentor should have job-related expertise in the field in which you wish to grow. This might be technological or managerial. It is expertise that you may ­find useful in their current or future roles.

Storytellers: A great mentor is a master storyteller. When you’re struggling with an issue, your mentor should willingly share a story about a similar struggle that he faced in the past.

Lifelong Learner: Experience accumulated through the mentor’s own life of personal issues that are or are likely to be of particular use to the person being mentored. Pick a mentor who constantly strives to be a better leader himself. Ask the mentor who he or she considers to be his or her mentor(s).

The aim of mentoring is to build the capability of you, the mentee. As such, you should always choose a mentor who you feel can respond to your needs in a way that enables you to find your own solutions to problems that you may be dealing with. Ultimately, your mentor should help build you up to eventually have a mentee of your own!

My life and career have been absolutely propped up by mentors. I value them so much that I dedicated my most recent book, Leaders Open Doors, to five mentors who make all the difference my life.

Do you need help finding a mentor? Contact GLC at to learn more.

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About Bill Treasurer

Bill Treasurer is Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting, a courage-building company. For over two decades, Treasurer has worked with thousands of leaders across the globe, strengthening their leadership influence. Bill is the author of best-selling books Courage Goes To Work and A Leadership Kick in the Ass. He is also the author of Leaders Open Doors, the royalties of which are being donated to programs that support children with special needs. » Learn More

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