People & Leadership

Seven characteristics of an effective mentor

Mentorship is a good way to bring more youth into your industry, attract and retain employees, and advance individual careers and businesses.

But, what makes a good mentor? To answer that question, I turned to the experts.* Here’s what they list as the top qualities of effective mentors:

1. Active listener

Good mentors are genuinely interested in the people they are mentoring. They know how to ask enlightening questions and value the opinions of others.

2. Trustworthy

They build a bond of trust by following through on their commitments, providing a safe environment for open discussions, and always keeping the mentee’s best interests in mind.

3. Honest

Effective mentors are objective, fair, and diplomatic in their feedback and guidance.

4. Knowledgeable

They stay on top of what’s happening in their field and have the know-how and experience to provide sound advice.

5. Respected

Colleagues and other professionals respect them and they have a network of contacts that can be used to open doors and create opportunities.

6. Willing to share

They truly want to share what they know.

7. Motivational

As positive role models, themselves, they motivate by example and have the drive to see people succeed.

Member Masterclass: Talks from the world's leading experts

Learn how to find and keep great people. All Sage customers and partners have automatic access to Sage Membership, which includes Member Masterclass. For a limited time, this member resource is open to everyone.

Explore Member Masterclass
Duke Stump

Characteristics of an effective coaching and mentoring relationship

These characteristics aren’t just concepts or buzzwords – they are pillars for building a stronger, more positive, and ultimately, more impactful mentor-mentee relationship. For example, a mentor who truly practices becoming an active listener might detect personal strengths or challenges in a mentee that would go unnoticed by others. Likewise, a mentor who maintains the trust and respect of his or her peers by staying knowledgeable in the field is likely to have a wider and more valuable professional network, placing the mentor in a better position to open up career opportunities for the mentee.

Whether you want to be a mentor, or you’re selecting one for yourself or a company program, these seven characteristics are key. Of course, mentors should also have some mentorship training if they are involved in a structured program that requires regular meetings, goal setting, and evaluations.
And finally, look for the best match. Some programs will do this by having both the mentor and mentee complete forms asking what they want to get out of a mentorship relationship and other important matching questions. In the end, a successful mentorship starts with a good relationship.

7 key qualities of an effective mentor, Inc.
5 qualities to look for in a mentor, Forbes
9 characteristics of a good mentoring relationship, Huffington Post
Characteristics of a good mentor/coach, Federal Library & Information Center Committee

Editor’s note: This article was originally published August 2016 and has been updated for relevance.