Becoming a Mentor
Being a successful leader begins with being a successful mentor. You can’t lead others unless you can engage each and every one of them on a personal basis. The real challenge in mentoring is that every person is different and how you approach him/her has to be different. Some are quiet and reserved. Others are very outgoing. Some are overly conscientious, while others seem to care less. No matter the difference, you have to learn how to connect. Here are some strategies for doing this.
- Learn how to read others. Make a list of questions that you would like to know about them. These are not factual questions (e.g., Where are you from?) but values revealing questions (e.g., What do you get excited about?).
- Open up to the person about yourself. Others will be open to you when you are open with them. (e.g., When I started in the major, I was unsure about…)
- Ask how you can help them. If you don’t get a good response, share with them how your senior mentor helped you.
- Tell your advisee that there may be times when you are tough on them when you see them doing stupid, self-destructive things. Let him/her know that nothing good comes from ignoring a problem.
- Find one little thing you can do each week to make your relationship with your advisee special. (e.g., wishing them a Happy Birthday, making an internship connection, inviting them to a party, sending encouragement before a test.)
Being a mentor is not just putting in time. It’s about making a commitment to another person. That takes more than time. It takes genuine caring.