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So, you want to be a mentor?

“So you want to improve your 𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 skills” I asked. “Yes indeed” came the reply.
This week, I have spent a lot of time in 1-1 sessions, helping individual mentors improve their mentoring skills.
Here are my 𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝟏𝟎 𝐭𝐢𝐩𝐬 for guidance.
  • 𝐋𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧 with compassion, empathy and understanding – Deep or Active Listening.
  • 𝐀𝐬𝐤 𝐐𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬, be curious, seek clarity, probe, ask why and help each mentee to ask questions of themselves.
  • 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞 – move their learning from their comfort zone to their stretch zone.
  • Give of your 𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞, frequently, consistently, intimately, 1-1
  • Be fully 𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐭. When you meet, create a psychologically safe space, and ensure there are no distractions.
  • Storytelling. Share your experiences that helped you succeed. Bring your stories to life.
  • Make a 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐧, set objectives and begin with the end in mind.
  • Provide 𝐒𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭 & 𝐄𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 to your mentee to push through difficult challenges. Be a trusted sounding board.
  • 𝐀𝐝𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐞 & 𝐑𝐞𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐞 – make suggestions, offer different perspectives to help a mentee become unstuck through self-reflection.
  • Give 𝐂𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 & 𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 from time to time, to avoid potential pitfalls.

Wind or Sun?

Facilitating a workshop on influence & persuasion recently I was reminded one of Aesop’s classic fables. As I recall, it goes something like this….

A dispute arose between the Wind and the Sun, as to which one was the stronger of the two. They agreed to put the point upon this issue – that whichever soonest made a traveller take off his cloak, would be deemed as the more powerful.

The wind began and blew with all his might, but the stronger he blew, the closer the traveller wrapped his cloak around him and the tighter he grasped it with his hands.

Then, the sun started to shine through. With the welcome beams of light and warmth, the traveller began to feel the gradual heat of the sun, as it shone brighter and brighter. Eventually, overcome with the heat, the traveller cast his cloak on the ground.

Thus, the sun was the champion.

For me, there is a great lesson in this simple fable that persuasion is better than force. Indeed, the sunshine of a kind and gentle manner is much more powerful than the threat of force of blustering might.

How are the wind and sun different from each other?
What lesson does the tale teach you?
How can you apply this learning to your life?