The popular adage, “If you want to have a good friend, you must be a good friend,” also holds true for mentoring. The mentor who sets the example of a proper work ethic, steady productivity, and self-care is most apt to develop a protégé who exhibits these traits. A good mentor accepts responsibility for the success of the relationship and the accountability for how it is proceeding.
Effective mentors realize that their protégés will be helpful in reducing the workload, and can be counted on to provide loyalty and assistance. They will also benefit from the increased excitement of working with talented newcomers and guiding protégés to success. Both mentors and protégés can enrich each other’s networks.
An active mentor should also be an active professional who is highly involved in the organization. By demonstrating command of the field and visibility among peers, the mentor mirrors the activity that is expected of the protégé. Such activity also shows the mentor to be a hard worker and innovator, which creates excitement in the mentorship.
Mentors who are proficient at their jobs, knowledgeable about their companies, and aware of what is required in their mentorship roles will produce the best and most confident protégés. They are aware that their influence over protégés comes with responsibility. They must not exploit protégés personally or professionally, and must be honest about protégés’ abilities at all times. It can be difficult to give objective feedback, especially if a mentor becomes friends with a protégé, or if it becomes clear that the protégé is in the wrong field; however, honest feedback is always in the protégé’s best interest.
Mentors should not attempt to turn their protégés into exact replicas of themselves. A successful mentor discovers what inspires the protégé and where his or her dreams and objectives lie, then shows the protégé how to accomplish as many of them as possible. Humble mentors who are comfortable talking about their own limitations and imperfections have been proven to be better models for their protégés.