How to be a great mentor in five steps

Author: Hanan Nagi | Date: 23 Nov 2016

Hanan Nagi, founder of HNI Training & Coaching, on the qualities you need to inspire others

Hanan NagiThe writer William Arthur Ward once wrote: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
Successful mentoring relationships are built on mutual respect, trust and can be hugely rewarding for both parties as well as the organisation. However, despite ‘mentoring’ being a common buzzword in the modern workplace, its origin can be traced back to Greek mythology, so it’s no fad or new concept.
For thousands of years, great mentors have been providing their subjects with invaluable insight, inspiring them and setting them on the path to success and career development. It is important to remember that by definition, mentoring is a two-way relationship; it is a dynamic collaboration between two people, so it is vitally important that the duo is a good match to start out with.
But what sets the very best mentors apart from the rest? There are certain fundamental steps you can follow if you want to be a great mentor, and here are five that will help you achieve this goal.
  1. Listen
    People often make the easy mistake of assuming that the mentor does most of the talking, sharing pearls of wisdom and providing solutions. However, the best mentors are great listeners first and foremost. They react to what is being said rather than imparting irrelevant advice. They will also steer a conversation rather than dominate it, encouraging the mentee to reach their own conclusions and answers.

  2. Be a role model
    Lead by example by displaying behaviours and characteristics that your mentee will respect and want to emulate. As a mentor, your actions will be scrutinised and evaluated, so set the bar high for yourself because, as inspiring as conversations with your mentee can be, it is action that is required as well as motivating words.

  3. Be committed
    To be a great mentor you must make a huge investment, not just in time, but also in commitment. You must have the desire to see your mentee achieve their goals and get to know them personally, so that you can truly understand them. This involves seeking out opportunities to engage with them and making sure you are always available when they need you. If your mentee senses a lack of commitment, this can have a very negative impact on their progress and confidence.

  4. Think analytically
    The mentee may want to discuss problems they are facing and the mentor should be able to see beyond the issue itself and identify why it became a problem in the first place. A good mentor can strip back the layers of a problem and is skilled enough, through discussion, to ensure the mentee arrives at the best solution independently.

  5. Have your own mentor or network
    Successful people garner information and intelligence from a broad array of sources and build relationships with experts in all industries. Cultivate your own network and use it. People who fail to reach out or build a network ultimately miss out on opportunities.
Hanan Nagi is founder and CEO of HNI Training & Coaching, a Dubai-based training consultancy.