It seems a long time ago since I was a employed as a Learning Mentor in a local school. My role was to meet with students who had a high academic ability but for different reasons were not performing at that level. My mentoring role was very specific – help them get back on track.
It was a challenge. How to re-engage disinterested students? It was about finding that one thing that would create a spark, which could ignite a desire to improve. It was also about helping them work out their own plan for their future, to definitely not be just another teacher telling them what.
Good leaders learn the skill of being a mentor, a coach, an accountability partner. We often find ourselves as the person who keeps an individual moving forward, giving them a friendly or not so friendly kick up the butt when needed. We are that person who asks the critical questions, someone who has a strong desire to bring out the best in them.
Here a 5 things to remember before you put yourself forward as a mentor:
You are a role model. It’s not just about when you sit down and chat with them. All of your life will speak to them. Be careful to not reduce your impact by acting in a contrary way to how you are encouraging them to live.
You need to be able to listen well. It can be difficult to not just give them the answers but a good mentor/coach has to learn to enjoy awkward silences, giving time for thought and for them to work out the solution for themselves.
You need to have a genuine concern for them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care [John Maxwell]. You cannot fake this for long. If you are not genuine, people will see straight through you.
You need to be able to help them see the future. It’s not about your plan for their future. Good mentors lay out the options and let those they are mentoring find take the path best for them.
You must be able to ask them the difficult questions. A good mentor knows when to back off and say nothing, yet at the right time they also know when to confront. It’s not the easiest role to undertake but the rewards can be quite incredible.
Who could you mentor? How could you invest in another person, helping them to discover the best version of themselves?