Look for these traits in an ideal mentor

Author: Janani Sampath

They are here to lead you, to be your best critic and cheerleader. For women, who want to advance in their careers, mentorship is one of the best pursuits. Mentorship gives them access to opportunities, especially in a male-dominated terrain.

The pandemic has made mentors’ roles more significant than before. Mentors enable them to sail through new and unprecedented situations, whether it is a woman starting her career or the one restarting or seeking advancement.

While it is known that someone who has proven their mettle with knowledge is an ideal mentor, other factors define them:

  1. Non-judgmental: Imagine you have had a bad day at home, and it is affecting your work. If you do not have to worry about the story you need to make up to explain to your mentor why you are stuck, you have the right one. Mentors don’t judge you for uncontrollable factors. Confiding in them about a bad day would only get you a keen ear to listen and probably some tips to tide over it.
  2. Flexible: Everyone has unique skills, approaches, and solutions. The mentor should be keen on knowing the intent and not be fixated on the process. The mentee’s strength reflects in their approach. Flexibility is the key here, and a mentor allows the mentee to try their methods and thoughts and not impose theirs on them. After all, mentoring is about making one realize their fullest potential. How else to do it, except explore by yourself?
  3. Empathy: You might have taken a break from your career and are out of touch with the industry. While this may seem like a disadvantage, a mentor pointing out the gap alone will never know what it takes to bridge it. The gap is precisely why you are seeking mentorship. So, a mentor who understands your story is an ideal ask.
  4. A respectful attitude: It may be a mentor of any gender, but they must respect your ideas, skills, and ambitions irrespective of your experience. When you start on the foundation as a mentee, you are looking for an enriching experience of reaching your goal— without belittlement, biases, and complete faith.

There are factors like being honest with feedback and constructive in their criticism defining an ideal mentor. Above all, an ideal mentor is genuinely invested in your growth and success.