Should You Be a Mentor?

Perhaps one of your direct reports or a young colleague has approached you about becoming his or her mentor. Of course, you're flattered that the person thinks highly enough of you to ask for your guidance. And you believe that your years of experience would enable you to make a positive contribution to the person's career. But before you make the commitment to become a mentor, it's well worth the time to conduct a bit of soul searching.

Should you become a mentor? In her new book, The Mentoring Advantage—Creating the Next Generation of Leaders (Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2004), management expert Florence Stone recommends that any would-be mentor ask him or herself the following 15 questions

Answer “Yes” or “No” to each question.

Yes  No 1. Do I enjoy working with other people?
Yes  No 2. Am I a good listener who demonstrates respect for my colleagues?
Yes  No 3. Am I sensitive to the needs and feelings of others?
Yes  No 4. Do I recognize when others need support? What about being given free reign?
Yes  No 5. Is it enough to find reward in service to someone who can benefit from my experience and knowledge?
Yes  No 6. Am I flexible and willing to adjust my business schedule to meet the needs of someone else?
Yes  No 7. Am I able to help another person without smothering him or her?
Yes  No 8. Am I patient and tolerant when teaching someone?
Yes  No 9. Am I confident and secure in my know-how and do I make an effort to remain up to date?
Yes  No 10. Do I set high standards for myself and my staff? Would I do the same for a mentee?
Yes  No 11. Do others look to me for information about my area of expertise?
Yes  No 12. Do I enjoy my work and want to share that excitement and challenge with others?
Yes  No 13. Am I able to explain things to others regardless of complexity?
Yes  No 14. Do I have the self-confidence sufficient to help someone move ahead without feeling threatened?
Yes  No 15. Are others interested in my ideas and opinions?
Total Number of "Yes":

While Stone believes that there is no “ideal profile” of a mentor, if you can't answer “yes” to most of the above questions, you may want to politely decline the invitation to become a mentor. In fact, you may benefit instead from finding someone to mentor you .

One thing is certain--mentoring is a trend that is sweeping through corporate America. In her book, Stone writes: “In interviews, almost all leaders today have pointed to one or more individuals who had a major influence on their professional lives, if not both their professional and personal lives. Being mentored has come to be considered one of the great things we can all do to advance our careers.”

You can learn more about mentoring in these AMA seminars:


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