Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, Warren Buffet, Colin Powell, and dozens of other successful business leaders have had mentors help them hurdle challenges and knock out their goals. You may have benefited from having a mentor yourself. And if you’re thinking you might make a great mentor for another young professional, you’ve chosen a worthy path.
But mentoring isn’t for everyone. Before you get started, take an honest look at how well your natural abilities and interests align with your plans.
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Are You A Natural Mentor? The Quiz
For each of the sentences below, determine how often the comment is true about you and give yourself the related score:
Often – 2 points
Sometimes – 1 point
Rarely – 0 points
People tell me I’m a good listener.
I rely on mentors to help me reach goals.
I learn from the examples of strong leaders.
I work on collaborative team projects.
I’m interested in what motivates people.
If I don’t know how to solve a problem, I experiment until I find a good solution.
I enjoy learning new skills or trying new things.
I participate in professional organizations or other groups that support my industry.
I take training or self-directed learning in my field.
I solicit feedback from my employer or co-workers.
I take advice from others.
I check in with new employees to see how they’re adjusting.
I dig a little deeper to understand important issues or challenges.
I accept criticism or challenges to my ideas.
I appreciate diversity of backgrounds, education, and culture.
I reflect on what I’ve learned.
I get a personal reward from sharing my time with others.
I’m happy for others who succeed.
I admit when I don’t have the answers.
I see more than one solution to a problem. [/message][su_spacer]
What the questions mean
Now that you’ve taken the quiz, you might be wondering how these statements relate to your aptitude as a mentor.
Each one targets a behavior or skill that mentors need. Few people will answer “often” to everything on this list, but you’ll find that the best mentors are those who have most of these characteristics.
The best mentors:
- Are good listeners.
- Learn from others.
- Are curious about others.
- Genuinely want others to succeed.
- Help mentees find solutions rather than telling them what to do.
- Experiment and explore non-traditional solutions to problems.
- Give and receive feedback well.
- Continually grow and develop.
- Value different backgrounds, cultures, and thought processes.
What your score means
Add up your scores for each question.
0 – 10 Points: You may want to give back in other ways.
If most of the phrases above rarely apply to you, you may not find much satisfaction in mentoring others. First, congratulations on being honest with yourself.
Second, there are other ways to give back. You can write articles and books to help others learn. You can also teach courses or serve as the office expert on specific topics. If you choose to go ahead with mentoring, take it slowly and select a mentee you feel comfortable working with.
11-25 Points: Mentoring may be a good fit for you.
You have many of the traits that mentors need, but you might not have a lot of experience in managing people or collaborative problem solving. That’s no reason to put off your plans to mentor. But if you want the best from the experience, take time to build additional skills.
You can find excellent courses in mentoring, coaching, listening, and goal-setting. Or you could find a mentor for yourself who can help you reflect and improve. And be honest with your mentee that you’re just getting started. His or her feedback will help you learn as you go.
26-40 Points: You’re a natural mentor.
If you’ve answered “sometimes” or “often” to almost every item on the quiz, you’ve got mentoring in your blood. You may be informally mentoring people right now. You may be the person everyone turns to for help. If so, and if you get great satisfaction from helping others this way, then dive in. You and your mentee will succeed together and have a great time doing it.
Regardless of your score, no mentor is perfect. Keep the lines of communication open to ensure the relationship is working for you both. In most cases, you’ll each grow from the experience and end up with a life-long friendship.
Awesome list. All I would add is make sure you don’t have some bad habits that your mentee can easily emulate. Though, I had awesome experiences being a mentor, I can not say the same as a mentee. Though my mentors abstractly fit each item in that questionnaire, they had behaviors that I picked up that impacted me negatively.
When being a mentor or looking for one, know both the good and the bad.
Thanks, Chris. That’s a great point! Another reason it’s important to be honest with yourself when you’re thinking about being a mentor. I think it’s ok for mentors to admit they struggle with some bad habits, also. No one has to be perfect.
Agreed. Our quirks make us who we are. Bad habits are things that make others not want to work with us. Though a bad habit in one environment can be a survival behavior in another. Behaviors in production organizations versus political organizations come to mind.
Great point about good and bad habits in different contexts. It’s even true when we move into different roles. What works when you’re a programmer isn’t the best when you become a manager of programmers, for example.
Carol: Thank you for your great article on mentoring. The good news is that mentoring can be nurtured provided that we are willing to learn and practice.
Thanks, Tesfaye! You are so right. I think mentors end up learning as much as mentees. 😀
Great questionnaire here; Thanks a lot Ms Carol!
I wish every self-proclaimed mentor takes this test with utmost honesty.
Thanks, Bharat, for your kind words!