LEADERSHIP INSIGHTS

What does successful mentoring look like?

Before you throw yourself into sharing your ideas, your experiences, your hard earned expertise, with your mentee, you want to pause and think: what are we going to get out of this is, why are we investing this time, how will we know we’ve achieved what we set out to do, what does success look like?

Jane Savage
Thu 06 Jun
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What does successful mentoring look like?

Often a potential mentee won’t have taken the time to process their thoughts and formulate a plan for what they want to get out of a mentor relationship. They come to you like a hungry child ‘Feed me. Feed me your wisdom, I want to absorb it all now’. Maybe you have been a mentor before, you know what’s needed so off you go, following the same path as before. But has anyone stopped to consider if the path is going in the right direction?

Everyone is individual and unique. We all have our own experiences, our own starting point and equally our own finishing line. We may never reach a finishing line when it comes to learning but we do have milestones we want to reach. Yours are likely to different to your mentees.

  • It makes sense to establish some tangible ‘wants’ at the start of any mentoring relationship and
  • Keep revisiting those wants to ensure the path you are on is leading where it needs to go. 

“Good questions inform, but great questions transform”

Ken Coleman


Asking the right questions can help the mentee to really think about what it is they want to achieve. Knowing that, allows you, the mentor, to decide the path to take to get there.

What should I ask?

  • Open questions allow you unpick the mass of fizzing potential and expectation, then drill down to specifics by asking more probing questions.

Keeping it simple, potential opening questions:

  • Why are you doing this?
  • Why have you chosen me as your mentor?
  • What do you think I can offer you?
  • What do you want from me?

Follow up questions for delving deeper:

  • What do you see as your greatest challenge?
  • What’s important to you right now?
  • Where do we start?
  • What are you putting into this?
  • How will you know this is working?

And don’t forget the practicalities:

  • When will we meet/how often/where?
  • What do we expect from confidentiality?

Establishing the foundations of what is expected, allows you both to work together and accomplish what you set out to achieve.

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