If you've excelled in your career in any way, you've likely had help from others. Maybe a university contact facilitated an internship, or a seasoned colleague at your entry-level job set you up for a promotion.
Now that you're more established and comfortable in your career, it's time to give back. A rewarding next step is becoming a Mentor. This provides an extremely important transfer of knowledge so the next generation doesn't waste valuable time re-inventing the wheel. Think of mentoring as a legacy that you can leave behind.
Mentors share their wisdom and learning with their Mentees, so it's essential that you have relevant expertise and experience. Your journey can inspire and guide others. While it’s important to encourage Mentees to think for themselves, giving them the thought processes and general framework for dealing with specific situations can leave a lasting impression. You can also provide a sounding board for rising stars to learn from prior direction and experience so they make better decisions in similar scenarios.
Mentors need to have good people skills and the ability to teach one-on-one. You have to be able to read someone to know if something is working. Sometimes you will be a career coach; at others, a listener or a source of practical wisdom on ways to avoid mistakes.To find out which approach is working best, discuss the situation with your Mentee and choose the best path forward to develop that person's skills and career.
Some important traits in a good Mentor include patience and listening skills. The most effective absorb what's happening, assess the path their Mentee is on, and then guide them to the right track. Mentoring is as much about counselling as it is transferring knowledge and leadership skills. This takes a lot of practice.
You also have to be willing to let your Mentee learn from their mistakes!