New employees often look for mentors in the office, someone who will take them through the rigors of working in the company. Mentors are people who have the experience to guide someone less experienced than them. Often, they are the people who have been working for the company for a long time. Although they don’t necessarily have to be in positions of power, it will help if they have more authority than you do.
But what should you look for in a mentor? What are the characteristics you should look for in a mentor? How do you find one? First, you have to look at a role model and identify the traits you want in that role model. SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming is one such role model.
After accepting the chairmanship for SMRT, Mr. Seah decided to resign from his day job to focus on his work at SMRT. He is famous for his ideas on creating a problem-solving culture. He once said that apportioning blame is unhelpful to actually solve the issues before you. If this is the kind of leader you want to become in the future, then look for the traits that Mr. Seah has. He’s a problem solver who can face his responsibilities and sacrifice his own comforts for the people he serves.
Being Responsible, Self-aware, and Focused
If you are going to follow in someone else’s footsteps, you have to make sure that someone is responsible, self-aware, and focused on what needs to be done. Being a mentee means looking up to your mentor. If you see your mentor blaming others, you will think that this is okay, too. After all, they became successful carrying this trait. It’s a wrong message to impart, but you wouldn’t even notice it is happening until you’re doing it yourself.
It is also essential for mentors to be self-aware. This means that they can acknowledge when they were the ones who made a mistake. They don’t blame anyone, and they certainly don’t sit in the corner and sulk. Instead, they take matters into their own hands, and they make sure to focus on what they need to do.
Mentors shouldn’t just push you in the right direction. They should guide you through it. They should steer you to the process where you will arrive at a solution that will fit your personality and style. So many mentors spoon-feed their mentees. What you should look for in mentors is the ability to listen. They should listen to your concerns, problems, and issues. They cannot force you to look at something the same way when you have different experiences and backgrounds.
Good mentors will listen to your problems and relate their own experiences. But more importantly, they will help you find the solution instead of handing it to you. This means that you should look for a mentor who will listen to you rather than those who see themselves in you.
Do you think you want a mentor who has it all figured out? People aren’t supposed to have things all figured out. They should want to learn continuously. They should push themselves harder and keep up with current trends. Even when they are already on top of their game, the best mentor surrounds themselves with people they think are better than them. They want to learn. As a result, you would want to learn, too.
You cannot have a mentor who is ruled by emotions. You also cannot be a mentee of someone who is your close friend. The lines of professional and personal friendships will blur. While it’s okay to be friends with your mentor, the focus is to be professional as much as possible. Mentors should be someone who can guide you in the industry. They should be able to tell you off when they think you’re making the wrong move. The friendship can follow on its own sweet time, but a professional bond is what you need first.
What matters most in any relationship is the kind of respect you have for each other, as well as the respect your mentor shows their subordinates. A mentor who respects your time by not using their higher position to make you wait or tune you out is someone who deserves your admiration. You will see this with the way they treat other people. And in no way should a mentor put you down with words or actions. While they can be a little stern, being abusive with their words and actions is never part of the deal.
The best mentors are those who are ready to guide you. They have to be willing to share. Otherwise, even the best CEO on the planet will not be an effective mentor. They have to want it before you can ask for them to guide you.