People frequently want insight into the “secret” to great mentoring.
In response to mentoring presentations or in one-on-one conversations about mentoring, I’m often asked questions that center on whether one move vs. another is “best” for mentoring and its intended outcomes.
My answer to questioners who ask should I do either “a” or “b” in a mentoring relationship is often (frustratingly I’m sure) YES. The reasoning behind this non-committal answer is that it depends on the mentor, person being mentored, the environment or context, or other factors. Certainly, there are many general principles that work well in mentoring; yet, there are few hard and fast rules about specific actions that would always work across the board (or a general secret to success).
The truth is that the “secret” to excellent mentoring is to recognize early and often that there is NO one-size-fits all approach to excelling at mentoring. Thus, the secret is that excellent mentoring is decidedly relational.
A commitment to excellence in mentoring is truly a commitment to getting to know the person that you are mentoring—their strengths, areas of needed growth, personal goals and aspirations, and other critical factors. You need also allow them to get to know you—your mentoring style (fixed vs. flexible), your goals for mentoring, and your expectations (for yourself and them in the process). It is is through cultivating a mutual knowing, and a commitment to doing so on an ongoing basis, that you can truly (and routinely) forge a path towards mentoring success.
If you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM