What to Look For When Choosing a Mentor

Throughout my life, I’ve had a number of great mentors. But one in particular who had a huge impact was the president of my alma mater. He really took me “under his wing” and helped me in several different ways. A good mentor is certainly someone with plenty of experience – not necessarily just in your field – but also with life in general. He or she provides an ear when you need one, and produces useful advice that helps you get and stay on the right path.

Choosing a mentor is not always easy, since you’ll need to find someone committed enough to your development to be willing to work with you. However, people with solid mentorship are far more successful than those who blaze their own path alone. Here’s what to look for in a mentor:

1. Someone who shares your core values

To put it simply, your core values define who you are. Do you consider yourself to be an ethical person? Are you disciplined enough to follow your dreams? Do other people call you “patient” and “optimistic”? These are all important values to have in life, and your mentor should share them. Otherwise, the two of you will not see situations in a similar manner.

2. A mentor committed to your development

A good mentor needs to be as committed to your professional development as you are. Being on the same page here translates to  they want you to succeed as much as you do. However, it takes time to move up the corporate ladder, so you need your mentor to be alongside you every step of the way.

3. A person who provides constructive feedback

Sometimes you need someone to tell you that your idea is incorrect or that you handled a situation wrong. Your mentor should be that person. You need to build up enough rapport so that you trust their reactions and allow them to speak their minds, even if they’re informing you that you screwed up. Chances are, they’ve been in that same situation and have some great advice on how to handle it in the future.

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4. A good mentor will hold you accountable

Accountability is something that matters more than you think. If you don’t take responsibility for your actions, who will? The answer to that question is: Your mentor will, and she will not let you get away with acting out of character or ignoring the consequences.

Once you find a mentor who fits these four criteria, someone you trust and who is leading to guide you, then you are on the right path to success. Remember: Mentors are more than just role models, they play a huge role in your life, so choose yours wisely.

This originally appeared on the Jeremy Kingsley blog.

Jeremy Kingsley, is a professional speaker, author, and president of OneLife Leadership. Since 1995 he has spoken to over 500,000 people at live events around the world. He holds bachelors and masters degrees from Columbia International University and is the author of four books including Getting Back Up When Life Knocks You Down. Contact him at jeremy@jeremykingsley.com.

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