What are the essential qualities of a good mentor? We asked mentees for their opinions!

Published Aug. 3, 2020

When choosing a mentor, you first need to ask yourself this one important question: What are the qualities of a good mentor for my specific needs?

What are the essential qualities of a good mentor? We asked mentees for their opinions!

Illustration from Icons8

Skill and expertise aren’t enough, although they are important. For any mentorship to work, your mentor should provide the right kind of wisdom and guidance. The mentor also needs to be the right fit for you and your goals.

As a mentorship platform, at MentorCruise, many mentees ask themselves this question when browsing through the many different mentors with specific expertise.

Every mentoring relationship is different. This is for sure. But mentees have provided positive testimonials of their mentoring sessions, and we’ve realized that there are some qualities that they appreciate across the board. Here they are.

But first, why is it important to look for good mentor qualities?

All right, at MentorCruise, you get a 7-day free trial with every mentor that you start with. This mitigates some of the risks involved when it comes to getting a bad fit.

At the same time, we highly encourage that you set some criteria on the qualities of a good mentor. Why?

  • You’re not wasting your time or the mentor’s. This is a no-brainer. If this mentoring relationship ends up being successful because you’ve done your research, you won’t have to spend time looking for other mentors.
  • Effective guidance. When you’re a good fit, the mentor can give advice that can genuinely help you. Some mentors might be effective talkers, but if their advice comes from the wrong place, then this may not end up being helpful.
  • Develop a meaningful mentoring relationship. A good mentor for you will be able to provide emotional support and encouragement when you’re in a rut. After all, mentoring isn’t all about experience and expertise. It’s also about empathy and understanding from where the mentee is coming from.

9 qualities of a good mentor

1. Has relevant experience and expertise

“Arvid is a fantastic mentor knowledgeable across the entire startup lifespan. He really takes the time to understand your product and offer help and ideas where he can — all with great enthusiasm. Recommended!”

- Steve about Arvid Kahl

Arvid had valuable knowledge that Steve wanted about startups and products. Arvid knew about the startup ecosystem from the inside out. Arvid has bootstrapped and successfully sold FeedBackPanda. He’s also written a book about his experience in running this online business. As a result, they had a fruitful mentoring exchange.

This shows the importance of the first point: the mentor knows what they’re talking about. This is a no-brainer, but your mentor needs to have the relevant wisdom and the lived experience to give meaningful advice.

After all, the mentor you might want might have some seniority, but if it’s not the right type of experience, neither of you will benefit from this mentorship. Senior marketers most probably won’t be able to provide personalized career guidance to developers, no matter how good the marketers are.

2. Has palpable enthusiasm on the subject matter and their role

“This is the best decision I made in 2020. Having Raounak as a mentor jump-started my learning. He picked me up when I am on the verge of giving up, by breaking things down into small chunks and giving real-life examples to solidify my understanding. He is a good mentor but a better person. If you are looking for a rails mentor, you can’t go wrong with him.”

- Myth about Raounak Sharma

Having a mentor who has a passion for their craft and what they do inspires their mentees to stay optimistic in their pursuit of achieving their goals. Many mentees have attested how mentors have helped them stay on course with their mission through keen guidance.

For the mentee, this enthusiasm can even be life-changing. Myth was about to give up on their goals until they met Raounak. Roaounak then went through Myth’s problems and began to solidify his understanding of Rails, an application framework.

3. Is a fit with you and your goals

“I can definitely say that Diana is the type of mentor you want to keep for long-term if you are looking for someone to guide you through the coding world because coding can be a long and lonely process. She immediately identified my goals in conjunction with strategizing a learning path so that I could aim to accomplish my mission. She’s a keeper!”

- Jerrica about Diana Lee

For instance, Diana Lee not only listened to Jerrica but also gave her pointers on how to achieve her professional goals and suggested a learning path for her! This is an example of a great mentoring relationship, in which the mentor goes above and beyond to help their mentee. Jerrica felt less isolated in her coding journey because Diana Lee understood where she was coming from.

Your mentor might have all the right talents and expertise, and they can be super respected by their peers. They can even have been featured in reputable publications. These are all well and great, but do you think that they’re the right fit for you and your goals?

This is more of a gut feeling that you get with the mentor, and it’s something that you can only understand down the line. But your mentor needs to have a vague understanding of your challenges and where you’re coming from to help you.

When it is the perfect fit, it makes a whole world of difference. On MentorCruise, many people have stated how their mentoring relationship has changed their lives for the better because of a great fit.

4. Understands the value of mentorship

Mentoring is a truly two-way endeavor. Both of you come out of the experience feeling fulfilled. The mentee gets valuable wisdom and guidance on what they want to achieve. The mentor gets to share their experience and see insights on how the new generation of ambitious people in the field are doing.

Truthfully, some of the best mentors also had great mentors that have tremendously helped them in their personal and professional growth. For example, Raffaele Miele has been a mentor on MentorCruise since the platform launched. Many mentees noted how Raffaele takes time to listen to their problems and provide meaningful guidance. Here’s a testimonial from one of his mentees:

“Raffaele is not only a talented Data Scientist; he is a great teacher. He has a very clear understanding and vision of the most important areas to focus on. This guidance helped me to become much more efficient in selecting the right technical skills and projects to focus on. I would highly recommend a mentorship with Raffaele for anyone interested in Data Science and Machine Learning.”

- Jonathan about Raffaele

He understands the value of mentorship and the qualities of a good mentor. Interestingly, Raffaele also had some great mentors in his life, including the head of the department he did his Ph.D. in. This allowed him to identify the qualities of a good mentor and has applied these insights to his mentoring relationships.

5. Provides deep guidance, constructive feedback, and personal insights

“He is an excellent mentor, He always tries to clarify the doubts from basics which is exactly required for understanding the concepts. He helped not only clarify deep learning and machine learning doubts but also with my career decisions. He encouraged me so many times when I am deviating from my goal, I will always recommend him.”

- Kali Prasad about Rachit Kumar Agrawal

A defining quality of a good mentor is their ability in providing quality guidance. Now, this is not just about their excellent expertise on the subject matter. It’s also about the mentor providing wisdom filled with personal insights to the mentee to guide them to their goals.

As a mentor, Rachit not only helped Kali on the basics of deep learning but also on her career. The quality of a good mentor is to provide guidance when the mentee is at a complete loss on what to do next. The mentor listens, synthesizes the information, and provides effective answers to areas that the mentee struggles with.

6. Wants to maintain the mentoring relationship

“Jessica is a brilliant mentor and motivator. She is a very knowledgeable, approachable, and uplifting individual who is a true leader in her field. Jessica has genuinely invested in my development, openly discussed experiences and provided valuable advice and support.

Thanks to Jessica, I have expanded my marketing knowledge and have made a connection from within her network, where I am now a Marketing & Research Assistant! Thank you, Jessica, for positively influencing my personal and professional development and for being an exceptional mentor!”

- Gagan about Jessica Bordin

Great mentors take a genuine interest in this mentoring relationship and understand that they have much to benefit from this as the mentees.

In this relationship, there is mutual respect and understanding. More importantly, the mentors themselves want to make sure that the mentees get what they need to fulfill their mission.

At some points, mentors even exceed expectations by extending their help in ways that the mentee could have never imagined. Jessica didn’t just provide career guidance to Gagan. She used her own network to give him a job!

While getting a job isn’t a prerequisite in good mentoring relationships, this just goes to show how invested Jessica was in helping Gagan.

7. Challenges you to do better

At the start, Jordi really challenged me. I think I might have complained a lot at the start that I wasn’t able to find the answers I needed. After a while, Jordi explained to me how important it is in the industry to find these answers through Google and other sources. I did use Google, but he gave me some insights on how it’s really a skill to find the answers you need sometimes!

- Ryan about Jordi Scharloo

Ryan is a former professional basketball player who now works in cybersecurity. This career change is in itself already impressive. But one thing that effectively allowed him to switch was through effective guidance from his mentor, Jordi.

The best thing about mentorship is that it’s all about how to get to a certain goal. It’s not about giving out theoretical knowledge and vague statistics on the chance of success. It is about providing pointers that work.

Here, Jordi provides actionable tips on using Google and other research methods to succeed in the industry and provides him with guidance to be able to do better. Jordi then challenged Ryan to do better by applying his new learnings.

8. Has empathy and great listening skills

These following testimonials show what this point is all about.

“Probably the most knowledgeable person in AWS, DevOps and infrastructure you’re ever going to meet. You should definitely give him a call. He is super kind, understanding and willing to work with you where you are.”

- Peyton about Yashish Dua

“Stephen was a great listener and was prompt to answer my questions. I was able to complete my short-term career goal and was extended by my client.”

- Pursley about Stephen Gabriel

“Felix is a great mentor, with years of experience in the marketing industry he knows exactly what hiring managers/recruiters are looking for and he can pinpoint any problems you might have. Really easy to talk to, a very good listener and gives great advice. Cheers Felix!”

- Walter about Felix Huang

Empathy is an essential quality of a good mentor. By having empathy for the mentee’s struggle, the mentor can give effective advice on the next steps.

In these 3 mentoring experiences, all of the mentees have emphasized how the mentor effectively helped them solve their problem after careful listening. Look for a mentor that can effectively listen and help you get out of your funk.

9. Is a positive role model with a great attitude

Positivity is truly a defining quality of a good mentor, and most recommendations on MentorCruise partly center on the mentor being positive.

Most of the time, there’s a reason why the mentee was searching for a mentor. The mentee does not know how to proceed into achieving a certain goal and other forms of professional development just won’t do.

The mentee wants something more personalized than a teaching session. They want someone who’s been there and done that. As such, mentees may be at their most vulnerable in the initial mentoring sessions. They need help. They need guidance. They need encouragement to achieve their mission.

Therefore, mentors need to be positive role models and positively share their wisdom with the mentees. You don’t encourage a person who’s in doubt by being negative!

Join MentorCruise to find out more about these great mentors

In this blog post, you’ve learned some fundamental qualities of a good mentor. It’s now time to find them!

At MentorCruise, we’re obsessed with great mentoring relationships. We want our mentees to get personalized guidance to achieve their goals. We want mentors to instill their wisdom and experience to mentees who might be a bit confused about how to move forward.

Try it out and be inspired. Sign up for free now.