Every superhero franchise needs a trilogy.
In my first installment of this series (the origin story, if you will), I talked about finding and approaching a mentor. The sequel was on how to be a great mentee--what I lovingly term as a SuperMentee.
Now, the big conclusion: Let's focus on being the mentor.
Mentors, you want big box-office for the time you spend outside of that box you call an office on mentoring, right? (See what I did there?)
Here's the mission briefing for becoming a SuperMentor:
1. Break down the borders and restrictions they've put up.
Sometimes, as a mentor, you just have to help people get out of their own way. You can help them think "sky's the limit", not limitations. Help them focus on improvement, not approval. Research indicates this is especially critical for female mentees.
2. Ask more than you answer.
Avoid making assumptions. Listen more than you lecture.
Asking the right questions will help the mentee figure things out for themselves. Nothing wrong with giving point blank advice, just balance prescribing your point of view with helping the mentee develop their own point of view.
3. Know when to wait before giving advice.
Research shows a top complaint of mentees is that mentors often jump the gun on advice.
Call in consultants if you have to. Take time to carefully consider the advice you're going to give--because the mentee is very likely to follow it.
4. Be encouraging but demand accountability.
Cheerleading and championing along the way is essential, but don't forget one of the most powerful roles a mentor can play: that of an accountability partner.
This is half the reason the personal trainer industry exists (to keep clients from exercising their right not to exercise).
5. Be introspective and articulate.
Mentees will sit there and, out of respect, listen. And listen. And listen. Don't be that guy or girl waxing on a stream of consciousness and eating up your precious time together.
Be reflective on lessons you've learned that you want to share. Be articulate in communicating how the mentee might benefit from your experiences.
6. Exude trustworthiness, authenticity, and vulnerability.
Research indicates that more than anything, mentees want to know they're getting the real, trustworthy you--not an over-polished, perfect version. The tribulations you share will be even more valuable than your triumphs.
7. Help mentees become a better version of themselves, not a better version of you.
You're engaged in a transfer of knowledge, not a transfusion. Learn who they are, how they like to work, their strengths and weaknesses, and help them become better at being them.
Replicating you can wait for 2200 A.D. when the robots have taken over and Ryan Seacrest is our overlord.
8. Understand the ask.
Get clear on why they've chosen you as a mentor and what their ask is. Research shows specificity in an ask more consistently yields goal achievement.
9. Be willing to have difficult conversations.
Sometimes you have to be the one to tell the mentee what they need to hear. Don't shy away from it--it's one of the biggest disservices you could do.
After all, that's why you get paid for being a mentor. (Wait a minute...)
10. Set up a personal Board of Directors for the mentee.
Don't be the only one investing in your mentee. Help set up a group of people that know the mentee--people that can make impartial assessments (from a bit of a distance) and that can round out the guidance you provide.
11. Be all-in.
It's easy to let a bad day drag down your energy for a mentee. They're investing a lot in this relationship too, so be excited, committed, reliable, approachable, and available.
In between sessions, "forage for the tribe", looking for useful articles or tidbits for your mentees.
Care about the person and the partnership. It makes it easier to keep up the investment you're making.
Follow these guidelines to guide your mentee, and you'll soon get the keys to the city.
To the MentorMobile!