What Makes a Good Mentor?


A cursory review of the literature suggests a variety of answers such as “A satisfied mentee.” “A strong sense of self”; “a good listener”; someone “offering support, encouragement and listening”; “a person who is willing to share of themselves;” “mentors try to unite the head and the heart”; “shares knowledge and wisdom and draws out the possibilities;” “it's vision, voice and vocation - building a relationship;” or “someone who can offer advice to me on issues besides academic matters.” 


However, I have found one of the best summaries:




Many people feel that being a mentor requires special skills, but mentors are simply people who have the qualities of good role models.


Mentors listen.

They maintain eye contact and give mentees their full attention.


Mentors guide.

Mentors are there to help their mentees find life direction, never to push them.


Mentors are practical.

They give insights about keeping on task and setting goals and priorities.


Mentors educate.

Mentors educate about life and their own careers.


Mentors provide insight.

Mentors use their personal experience to help their mentees avoid mistakes and learn from good decisions.


Mentors are accessible.

Mentors are available as a resource and a sounding board.


Mentors criticize constructively.

When necessary, mentors point out areas that need improvement, always focusing on the mentee’s behavior, never his/her character.


Mentors are supportive.

No matter how painful the mentee’s experience, mentors continue to encourage them to learn and improve.


Mentors are specific.

Mentors give specific advice on what was done well or could be corrected, what was achieved and the benefits of various actions.


Mentors care.

Mentors care about their mentees’ progress in school and career planning, as well as their personal development.


Mentors succeed.

Mentors not only are successful themselves, but they also foster success in others.


Mentors are admirable.

Mentors are usually well respected in their organizations and in the community.





Courtesy: The Connecticut Mentoring Partnership and the Business and Legal Reports, Inc. — Best Practices in Human Resources, Issue 653, September 30, 1999.



Compiled: Dr. John V. Richardson Jr., Associate Dean, UCLA Graduate Division, August 2005.