Top 5 Qualities To Look For In A Mentor

Published on 13 Dec 2017 . 3 min read

The tradition of passing down skills and wisdom from one generation to the next has been around since the human race itself, especially in India. The ‘guru-shishya’ tradition has been around for the longest time.

The same way, younger members of tribes would depend on the older, more experienced one to teach them to fend for themselves and stay safe. There are certain things that are learned from parents or older siblings. Something like riding a bike or driving isn’t something one is born with. In most cases, these skills are taught by an elder in the family.

These days, big corporates have incorporated mentor programs where they link executive level professionals with their younger colleagues to help them with their careers, to make tough decisions and to be there as a guiding force along the way – being a friend, philosopher, and guide!

Here are a few qualities in a mentor that really matter.

Are they honest? One of the most important qualities in a mentor is honesty. While sometimes it is tough, the mentor needs to be straight and give an honest answer.  

They need to be discreet, like the lawyer-client confidentiality. The information needs to stay with them. No matter what. It is important that you are allowed to be who you are and not clone you into somebody else. You must be able to retain your individuality and identity.

Nobody wants to be judged. Mentorship should not devalue you. Else you lose your self-respect and your dignity. While it is okay to give constructive feedback, a judgmental attitude is a complete no-no.

Importantly, does the mentor allow and give you the space to chart your own path?He needs to provide the right cues and triggers so that you can blossom along the path of self-discovery, even make mistakes and yet be able to get up and reach the destination. That’s what your mentor needs to do – empower you, give you the confidence in your own abilities so that you can be at your best. 

A mentor can help you channelize your strengths and also build on the unique qualities that you have. It also entails that the mentor lets you know the areas that you need strengthening and guides you on that path.

Accessibility is also important; you don’t need a mentor who is booked three months in advance.

One of the most important qualities of a mentor is that they should never become your crutch and you forget to walk on your own and have to consult them for little everything.

Much like the Marxian state, the mentor should slowly ‘wither’ away – not in a negative sense but slowly make your need for him redundant. This will ensure that you become self-reliant, your skill and talents are fully optimized and you are at your very best. And yes, it is always nice if they are on the horizon to see how well his/her mentee has done and lend a helping hand, should there ever be a need for it.

Happy getting mentored!


SHEROES - lives and stories of women we are and we want to be. Connecting the dots. Moving the needle. Also world's largest community of women, based out of India. Meet us at @SHEROESIndia

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