We need to go back in time, to the western world’s
earliest literature. To the character in Homer’s Odyssey
named Mentor - a friend who undertakes the education of the
hero’s son. Mentor helps the youth track down his missing
father, pilots him past ambushes and other deadly hazards to
see his protégée safely through his quest.
Thus the word derives from the image of a loyal, wise and helpful
friend - a teacher, protector and guide who uses his/her experiences
to show a person how to overcome difficulties and avoid danger.
The role of mentor is an extremely important one. An experienced
business person can provide guidance, counseling, coaching and
professional advice learned through experience.
Effective mentors are people who have the respect of the less
experienced, in terms of not only what they know, and who they
know, but also who they are.
In today’s world, we will see the need for Mentors, experienced
professionals who are willing to share their knowledge and guide
the less experienced through the hazards of growth. If you can
answer yes to the list below, you are ready to become a Mentor.
The qualities of a successful mentor must include:
A personal commitment to be involved with another person
for an extended time period. Mentors must have a genuine
desire to be part of other people’s lives, to help them
with tough decisions, to see them become the best they can be.
They must invest time in the mentoring relationship over the
long haul, to be there long enough to make a difference.
Respect for individuals and for their abilities and
their right to make their own choices in life. Mentors
can’t come with the attitude that their way is better
or that a protégée needs to be “rescued”.
Mentors must convey a sense of respect and equal dignity in
the relationship in order to win the trust of the protégée
and the privilege of being an advisor.
The ability to listen and to accept different points
of view. Most people can find someone who will give
advice or express an opinion. It is much harder to find someone
who will suspend his or her own judgment and really listen.
Mentors often help simply by listening, asking thoughtful questions,
and giving their protégées an opportunity to explore
their own thoughts with a minimum of interference. When people
feel accepted, they are more likely to ask for and respond to
The ability to empathize with another person’s
struggles. Good mentors can feel the need, without
feeling the need to pity their protégées Even
without having had the same life experiences, they can empathize
and help work through the problems.
The ability to see solutions and opportunities as well
as barriers. Good mentors balance a realistic respect
for the real and serious problems faced by their protégées
with an optimism about finding equally realistic solutions.
They are able to make sense of a seeming jumble of issues and
point out a sensible alternative..
Flexibility and openness. Good mentors recognize
that relationships take time to develop and that communication
is a two-way street. They are willing to take time to get to
know their protégées, to learn new things that
are important to their protégées, their hobbies,
talents, music styles and philosophies, and even to be changed
by their relationship.
The Benefits of being a Mentor include:
• The opportunity to positively influence another individual
by imparting effective values, attitudes and skills.
• Provides a better understanding of the problems faced
by others, and an opportunity to articulate and re-evaluate
their own benefits.
• An opportunity to update skills and abilities as well
as develop new skills.
• Increased recognition from peers and the community
• Provides a challenge both in terms of dealing with
the protégée as well as with the issues.
The Benefits of having a Mentor include:
• The opportunity to develop a personalized approach
to problem solving in a non-threatening environment.
• An opportunity to acquire technical and ethical knowledge
gained from the experiences of another.
• An opportunity to confront problems in a supportive
• The opportunity to develop a supportive network of
protégées and mentors.
• Access to an experienced “sounding board”.
The roles of mentor and protégée are equally
responsible, with each partner being aware that the time commitment
must reap rewards for both sides of the equation. Mentoring,
is back to the future, sharing experiences, guiding, counseling,
coaching - providing professional advice that has been learned
Effective mentors share not only what they know,
and whom they know, but also who they are.