Not all mentors come from leadership roles, and we firmly believe that anyone - regardless of work history - can be an effective mentor. But once a mentor, you will find that your mentees will look to you for guidance, advice, inspiration, and a good example. Sound a bit like leadership qualities to you? Well, that’s because they are, and as a mentor, you’ll need to have them.
So what are the qualities of leadership that are most important and effective to mentorships? According to Harvard Business Review, there are “three languages of leadership”:
Agility: Good leaders are flexible and able to adjust to the demands of a particular situation. Agile leadership is a useful quality for a mentor to have, because no two mentees will ever be the same. A mentor needs to be able to adjust to the particular needs, goals, and learning styles of individual mentees, and they need to be able to continuously learn and grow, applying what they’ve learned as the mentorship progresses.
Authenticity: Trust is the hallmark of every strong relationship, and it is just as true of mentorship as it is of leadership. An authentic mentor is one who is genuine, reliable, and trustworthy. Mentorship cannot truly exist without authenticity, since a mentee must be able to trust that a mentor’s guidance is based on genuine experience and regard for their well-being.
Empathy: A leader is most effective when he or she can identify with the struggles, hopes, and dreams of those they lead. This is especially applicable to mentorship, since a mentee is depending on you to see their particular situation, understand it, and guide them through it towards success. A mentorship is a true partnership, with both participants sharing an appreciation for the contributions they bring to the table: the mentor’s knowledge and expertise and the mentee’s aspirations and hard work.
These qualities represent three languages of leadership, which means that you can demonstrate them with the words that you use. Think about how you converse with your mentees and the words you use in laying out your mentorship plans. Keep these three attributes in mind and continuously reinforce them in your mentorship communications. Even if you don’t consider yourself a leader, you’ll be speaking the language and transferring the benefits of quality leadership to your mentees.
If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.