Monday, 19 March 2012

What should we look for in a mentor?

I've been really fortunate in having some great people helping me set up AchieveGood. A number of these people are ongoing mentors. Finding a mentor has been transformational for my career, and life. Here's some of the best advice I've heard - and learnt - on choosing a mentors. The best mentors are often:
  1. Different to you: Finding someone who is different to you, but is sympathetic to you is important. This isn't too difficult as no-one is exactly the same as you, but in mentoring it's important that you don't choose people who do as you do always and are exactly like you.
  2. Someone who provides a new perspective: Sometimes when we are busy setting up our organisations, we can get so drawn in that we are unable to look at the big picture or not think differently on an issue that we need to;
  3. Inspiring: If your mentor doesn't inspire you to be a better person or do better then the likelihood is the mentor isn't right for you. Finding someone who inspires is crucial to the mentoring relationship. I wrote about my lunch last year with Jack Sim, and the advice he gave me. He certainly inspired and challenged me;
  4. Someone who believes in you: A friend of mine once said "never underestimate the power of someone who believes in you". This has certainly been true in my life; when I'm surrounded by critical friends who believe in me, instead of feeling like I can't achieve anything, I realise that I can achieve - even if it means me changing a few things along the way, working with different types of people or changing as a person myself;
  5. Further along the journey than you: The people who mentor me are further along the journey than me; they've led large organisations, set up social enterprises and therefore understand what I'm thinking and experiencing. They can also share the mistakes they've made - as well as words of wisdom to enable me to make wise decisions.
What advice would you give to people wanting new mentors?