Five Keys to a Great Mentoring Relationship


Why is Mentoring so Important?

Great mentoring is important for all of us and should benefit everyone involved in a mentorship relationship. No matter who you are or what you do, it’s important to surround yourself with people who can speak into your life, specifically if you’re looking to grow.

For leaders and organisations that are looking to grow their leadership whether personally or professionally, mentoring can be extremely beneficial. Often, what is most needed for a company or organisation to grow is for the senior staff to keep growing.

When leaders get consumed with doing at the cost of being, cracks begin to appear in their lives which can manifest in all manner of physical, psychological, and emotional glitches. Mentoring helps to perceive emerging problems, grow from them, and become better people and leaders.

Mentoring helps us to understand ourselves, which is vital in leading other people. We all have blind spots and it often takes an objective outsider to help us see them and manage them better. 

Mentoring & Coaching Aren’t The Same

Mentoring and coaching are not the same thing. Mentoring is about the personal development of an individual or group. Coaching is about performing, reaching a specific outcome, and is focused on metrics.

Much like a sports coach, coaching centres around teaching how to do certain things and explaining processes. Mentoring has more to do with the person themselves and less on what the person has to do. 

Mentoring is:

Coaching is:

  • About is about performance, tasks, and doing
  • Achieving outcomes with metrics in mind
  • About measuring things - profit, orders, team-wins

Mentoring has to do with us as people! It’s about helping us flourish and guiding us as we become the best versions of ourselves.

Mentoring is personal, relational, and all about investing in the person. It takes intentionality and follow through in order for it to be successful.

If we’re committed to becoming the best versions of ourselves, mentoring will equip and empower us to thrive on our own and live out our potential. In order for mentoring to work, it has to be open and vulnerable from both mentor to mentee and mentee to mentor.

Without vulnerability, conversations and even growth stay artificial and surface level. We can’t grow in relationships where we have not agreed to a level of openness to talk about what matters.

A successful mentor can teach and help a person grow no matter what the skillset or person’s career may be whereas a coach is oftentimes more focused and directed towards a shared action or event. Mentors are chosen by us where coaches are usually chosen for us.

Often in life, we tend to surround ourselves with people and voices that we are familiar with, that know us, and that are similar to us; there’s a personal investment.

The same goes for mentoring. We’re more likely to be honest, to truly share where we are, and to grow when it’s with someone we have a personal connection with. 

Timing and Readiness are Essential 

Mentors aim to be the teachers of the students who are ready to learn. There is a phrase that beautifully depicts what a great mentorship relationship looks like;  “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Mentors appear when we’re ready for their voices in our lives.

This is why timing is so crucial to great mentoring. We’re all at different stages and places in our lives, and we all have different needs. Have you ever had someone recommend a book to you and when you go to read it, you don’t get anything out of it or you think it’s rubbish?

But then oftentimes, months down the road, the very same book can be something we can’t put down. What changed? The book hasn’t changed, but we have.

We may be in a different season. We may be ready for the truths that once didn’t fully apply or resonate with us. Timing with mentoring is very much the same. 

We can’t be successful in a mentoring relationship if we aren’t ready or if we don’t feel the need. We have to be ready ourselves in order to unlock the true potential and victories of great mentorship.

The buy-in must come from us as the mentee. Mentoring won’t work if it’s trying to answer questions that we aren’t in the season of our lives to want to ask.

Bad mentoring is trying to answer things that we won’t be ready to talk about for a year. We must be ready for a mentoring voice in our lives in order for mentoring to be successful.

So what does ready look like?

  • Ready means that we have developed enough self-awareness to recognise which voices we need from those we don’t need.
  • Ready means that we are willing to be open and honest with where we are at and where we want to be
  • Ready means that we are in a place where we desire growth and welcome change

Ready is the difference between fantastic mentoring and pointless mentoring.

Leave Your Ego at the Door.

Be Open & Be Vulnerable.

In a great mentoring relationship, both the mentor and mentee must have an openness and vulnerability in order for there to be great progress.

We can’t grow in these relationships if both parties haven’t agreed to have a sufficient sense and level of vulnerability to talk about what matters. As truth and honesty are present in our communication, we can begin to make real strides towards true growth and change. 

If mentoring is going to work, it has to be as ego-free as possible for both parties. 

The ego is immune to mentoring. 

The ego’s job is:

  • To not change. 
  • To protect the version of ourselves that we have agreed to create. 
  • To protect our identity, our confidence, our status, etc.

We can’t have a great mentoring relationship if we don’t let our ego go from the moment we begin.

If we allow ourselves to stay hidden behind protection, confidence, and the created version we’ve worked on, there will be no real change or lasting improvement. 

Weigh the Worth 

Many people say they can’t afford mentoring, the necessary books and resources, or the tools they need to improve their lives. This is where we have to change our thinking from the cost and look closer at the value.

We should reframe our relationships and investments and ask ourselves, “what is the value to me?” More often than not, if we take the time to reflect and examine the value of something that will help us grow and improve, the value outweighs the cost. We all could benefit from taking a deeper look at our own personal development and the value we place on it.

When it comes to weighing the worth, we should tell ourselves: 

  • There is value in having someone in my life to tell me I’m not crazy and neither are my ideas. 
  • I deserve the support and encouragement of being told by others not to quit. 
  • When it comes to my personal development, I shouldn’t feel bad for wanting to invest in myself.
  • I am worth the investment! 

We are all worth spending the money on our personal improvement. This means we can’t approach mentoring with a cost mentality.

Mentors can oftentimes teach us in minutes what would take us years to figure out on our own.

Great mentoring is a relational investment that will only continue to grow us in our personal and professional lives if we decide to invest in ourselves.

Small-minded people think of the cost where big-minded people think of the value. If we’re serious about the results, we must be serious about the investment. So consider the cost, but keep the value in view. 

Find out about mentoring with Paul Scanlon 


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