Being a boss girl is hard work. Slaying your goals, maintaining your social life, excelling at work and soaring in all areas requires the right amount of strength and ambition. At every stage in life, we need guidance to help us grow into the kickass women we were designed to be. You’re the star of the show and need a supporting cast to bring your vision to life. A suitable mentor can propel you faster than going at it alone.
Not just anyone is equipped for the job. To ensure a quality mentor-mentee relationship, it’s crucial to thoroughly vet every individual before entrusting them with your personal growth. You’re the interviewer.
Here are 11 indispensable qualities and traits to consider when finding a mentor.
An effective mentor is willing and able to effectively guide you on your journey. This person is an expert in their field and knowledgeable on what it takes to achieve success in the industry. They’re well-connected and well-respected by their peers, which can lead to greater opportunities for you. Despite existing hurdles or challenges, the proper mentor will provide solutions to get you where you need to be within a realistic timetable. A mentor has the resources to bring your intentions full circle.
A mentor should whip you into shape for greatness, pushing you beyond your comfort zone in the best way possible. They will block you at every excuse and challenge you to consider possibilities that you never thought were possible. There’s no cutting corners with a solid mentor and he or she won’t allow you to sell yourself short. In moments when you are unable to see the bigger picture, your mentor will provide the necessary brushstrokes to finish the masterpiece that is your vision.
“Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.” -Denzel Washington
It’s unlikely that your mentor will have several mentees at one time if so, listen carefully to what they say when they aren’t around. Does your mentor share info about their other relationships? Do they bad mouth others? If the answer is yes, then cut ties immediately. Mentorship malpractice should be avoided at all costs.
A mentor should never have a hidden agenda. You don’t owe them a thing outside of your gratefulness. As the mentee, you are there for their mentoring and not the other way around. Mentor-mentee relationships can be mutually beneficial, but your meetings shouldn’t require you to fulfill unrelated or useless tasks. Everything assigned by your mentor should have a purpose. Early on, ask what is required of you as a mentee and how your progress will be measured.
A good mentor is a cheerleader. While they should challenge you to be your very best self, a mentor should make it a priority to celebrate your wins, even the small ones. A mentor is selfless, demonstrating positive qualities. Their role is to elevate and celebrate you. Run as fast as you can from self-absorbed mentors. You have no value to them.
Your mentor should have similar morals and values. Their personal beliefs that go against what you stand for will be problematic in the long-run. An expert, in any field, known to make sketchy decisions costing the integrity of their company and colleagues is the worst kind of mentor. You can expect them fumble when assisting with your goals. A mentor with a bad reputation is harmful. Their sincerity or lack thereof will be evident early into the relationship. When finding a mentor, research their social media accounts (don’t add them, though) and take note of the messages that are shared. Do they send positive words or cause division?
A trainwreck mentor isn’t a mentor at all.
Finding a mentor means finding a person who is committed to the process of seeing you fulfill your passion. You should never question a mentor’s ability to show up for you. Enough said. Don’t budge on this one.
Communicating is less about “it’s my turn to speak” and more about “I’m all ears.” A mentor isn’t a therapist, but you should have comfort in sharing any conflicts or hardships you endure. They’ll be open to hear your perspective and step in with the appropriate response.
A mentor won’t spoonfeed you with things you want to hear, instead, they’ll fill you with everything you need to hear. You need a straightforward, balanced approach to execute your plans. A mentor isn’t your bestie. They’re all about business. Ask and ye shall seek. Sometimes, the answer you get isn’t necessarily the one you’re looking for, but a great mentor will give the best insight to ensure a favorable outcome.
Mentoring requires a time commitment. Your mentor is just as busy as you, if not busier. That being said, every meeting with you requires their full attention. A mentor that is easily distracted or unconcerned with objectives pertaining to your goal is a waste of time on both ends. Pursue someone willing to give you their undivided attention. One-on-one meetings should be all about you.
A mentor can outline action items that you may totally screw up. Sometimes, you won’t get it right. You are your greatest critic and tend to apply more pressure internally than any outside force. Because we are not without error, the last thing you need is a mentor who is quick to say, “I told you so” for each of your errors. A great mentor must possess empathy and emotional intelligence to uplift you on days when things are uncertain. Find someone who won’t compromise your vulnerability.
11. Lifelong Learner
The mentor you choose is likely older and more seasoned than you in a certain field. Their wisdom is gold. What’s even more attractive is their ability to adapt to new changes in the industry. They are prepared with up-to-date practices and ready to communicate strategies that align with your goals. A lifelong learner is constantly enhancing their own skills and paying it forward. In finding a mentor, be mindful of their current position and if they’re dedicated to advancing their own mission.
A lifelong learner is constantly enhancing their own skills and paying it forward.
My career coach and mentor has been with me every step of the way since 2013. She’s one of three mentors. I utilize her for business and spirituality advice. My second mentor is a veteran journalist and the other assists in my screenwriting endeavors. I encourage you to find mentors with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds to expand your horizon.
Need more inspiration? Dive into our Mind of a Mentor series, all about influential stories from bold women who overcame hurdles to unlock new levels of success.