The assumption that mentors exist solely to provide knowledge to mentees without any benefit to themselves is completely incorrect. Mentoring should always be viewed as mutually beneficial for all involved. There are several mentoring skills and qualities that can also improve the mentor and make the opportunity to participate in mentoring even more appealing.
So, how can a mentee help the mentor?
- Improved leadership skills
By taking on the role of a mentor in the mentor-mentee relationship, the mentor assumes a leadership position. Naturally, this will develop their leadership skills as they walk alongside their mentees through their challenges and achievements, providing a healthy mix of encouragement and feedback. This will prepare them for managing larger groups of people in the future.
- Increased satisfaction and sense of purpose
Mentoring is a mutual relationship that gives all involved a sense of purpose. The mentor will be able to observe the real impact of their knowledge and advice on the mentee. This will increase their awareness of their role in relation to their purpose and the joy of being able to help someone else.
- Improved empathy skills
When the mentee faces challenges, it’s an excellent opportunity for mentors to develop their empathetic skills. They may not have encountered a specific situation themselves, but they can make an effort to understand what it’s like to be in that situation and offer advice on how to overcome obstacles.
- Enhanced active listening skills
This is related to the previous point. To engage in empathy, mentors must listen to their mentees’ challenges and imagine what it was like or would be like to be in those situations. Reflecting on the mentee’s comments before responding will allow them to provide a more tailored combination of helpful encouragement and feedback.
- Opportunity to consider new perspectives
It’s essential to be mindful of “tunnel vision.” After a long time in an industry or on a job, everyone develops blind spots or preconceived notions about their field of work. Meeting with a mentee can provide opportunities to learn from a new perspective and expand knowledge about their industry and role.
- Improved communication skills
Mentoring can only be successful if it is based on healthy communication. Actively listening to the mentee and then providing tailored advice is a natural training ground for communication skills that can also be used in other relationships.
- Authentic relationships
By walking alongside the mentee through the ups and downs of their career path, the mentor develops authentic relationships with their mentees. Additionally, sharing vulnerable stories from their own past contributes to potential closeness in the mentoring relationship, enhancing the relational skills of all participants.
Regardless of which side of mentoring you are on, you can benefit from it; you just need to know what you’re looking for and how to go about it.