We all know how important mentors are to our personal and professional growth. What we don’t know is exactly how to find a good mentor. Specifically, what mentorship traits indicate this person can help us achieve our goals?
So we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:
What mentorship traits do you look for from a potential mentor?
Here are their answers…
1. Someone Who Knows Your Industry
I’ve had numerous mentors over the years who provided me with sound advice, connections for my career, and an objective voice when I wasn’t sure if I was headed in the right direction. Look for someone who knows your industry way better than you do, and who has been through all types of cycles and business stages to understand what you may be struggling with.
2. Someone Who Aligns with Your Values
Find a mentor who is living the way you want to live and work. An early mentor of mine was very money-driven, which was great for her, but money is not my No. 1 driver. The advice she gave on how to go about my business didn’t always land. When I found a mentor who valued impact and contribution like I do… that’s when the relationship became mutually beneficial.
3. Someone Who Guides You
I can safely say that without the guidance and support I’ve received from several mentors, I wouldn’t be where I am today. When looking for a mentor, find someone who can lead you to your own solutions: someone who won’t give you answers but helps you find them yourself. Don’t know anyone? Use MicroMentor.org to find someone who has experience in your industry.
4. Someone Who Leads You
As a solo founder, it can be hard to prioritize goals and get honest feedback from people who aren’t incentivized to tell you you’re right. Having external counsel that can provide critical feedback and help prioritize your initiatives can be a tremendous asset. They can serve as your ‘boss’ and hold you accountable to the growth you have planned for your company.
5. Someone Who Paves a Path for You
Mentors have been, and continue to be, pivotal for me. They illuminate their mistakes so I can avoid them, or at least attempt to avoid them, and they’ve guided me down a path where I can head straight for my vision rather than meander. One mentor’s guidance led me to accomplish in six months what took him six years. Before deciding on a mentor, make sure it’s someone you enjoy spending time with.
6. Someone Who Finds You
I think the best mentors come into your life because of how you’ve positioned yourself. If you have the work ethic of someone who’s the first one into the office and last one out, someone is going to take notice. When you contribute to the conversation, potential mentors see your potential. When I first got started in my career, the best mentors found me, not the other way around.
7. Someone Who You’d Want to Become
I owe many of my achievements to very generous mentors who were willing to share their time and knowledge. They weren’t only there to help my business. More importantly, they were there for me during my darkest times, professionally and personally, to keep me moving forward. People love giving advice, but choose someone who has done what you want to do in life.
8. Someone Who Lifts You Up
Different mentors have different styles of mentorship, and they’re most visible during times of failure. Some mentors will lift you up by making you feel like you’re capable of accomplishing anything and telling you you’ll succeed next time. Others will bring you even further down by saying you could have done better. The latter will never enable you to flourish.
9. Someone Who Pushes You
When choosing a mentor, it’s important to look for someone who pushes you to be better professionally and personally. This means someone who tells you the truth, even when it’s something you don’t want to hear. I would trust this type of mentor to stay with me as I grow, fail and learn, rather than one who only weighs in on decisions when it’s convenient for them.
10. Someone Who Can Help You Find Your Calling
For many years, I struggled to find what excited me or made me want to really work hard. Having a mentor helped me focus on what that was, and got me where I am today. Having that objective voice really helped me hone in on what I had to offer and where it would fit.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.