Qualities of a Good Mentor

A mentor and mentee look at a laptop.

Mentors are people that can help provide you with guidance, advice, support, and knowledge to help you with your personal and professional development. Good mentors should be enthusiastic about helping you achieve your goals.

The qualities of a good mentor usually include someone that is able to listen and provide feedback while being respectful. A good mentor might include someone with a particular skill set or expertise. Below are some of the key signs or qualities of a good mentor.

Key Takeaways

  • A good mentor is an active listener who is enthusiastic about helping you achieve your goals.
  • To make sure your mentor is the right fit for you, choose someone that shows you respect, provides honest feedback, and is an expert in your field.
  • A good mentor should be a cheerleader, encouraging you while providing guidance and advice to help you achieve your goals.


Whether you need personal or professional development, a mentor is someone that helps you achieve your development goals. A mentor is someone with knowledge or experience that is shared with others to help them improve.

The type of mentor can depend on the specific goal of the protege. A mentor might help you get organized, set goals, learn a specific type of skill, or improve your interpersonal relationships with coworkers. In short, mentors are here to help you grow and develop into the person or professional that you are striving to become.

Signs of a Good Mentor

Although there are many types of mentors, there are some key signs to look out for to ensure that a mentor is right for you and your situation. Some of the skills and qualities that a good mentor should possess include:

  • Enthusiastic
  • Shows mutual respect
  • Active listener
  • Provides honest feedback
  • Experienced in your field
  • Interested in helping you


When you are looking for a mentor, you should key in on one very important aspect of the possible mentor's personality. They need to be enthusiastic—almost to the point of being too enthusiastic. 

You should feel their sincerity in the way they present their desire to help you. Good mentors are passionate about their yearning to help others and receive their rewards not in the form of materialistic items or money but in seeing the people they have helped become successful.

Mutual Respect

Respect for others is not limited to mentors, but it should be on your list of requirements for yours.  Mentors should know how to be tactful in their conversations and emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of emotions in others and oneself, and be able to make decisions and influence others while controlling emotions and feeling empathy for those around them.

Mentors shouldn't be judgmental of others, voice their opinions of people, or talk down to you. For example, imagine a mentor saying the following: "Don't do this like John does; he's not very good at this." It would not be helpful to you or John and would violate the privacy expected from a mentor. 

Active Listening

A mentor needs to be able to listen to you. They should be involved in the conversation, prompting you for clarity or more information. 

They shouldn't be distracted when you are talking to them. A person that is always allowing themselves to be interrupted by phones, emails, or people walking by when in a session with you is not actively listening. 

A good mentor should not have any distractions when you're speaking with them. Instead, they should be focusing on you and taking part in the conversation. They should ask questions, reflect on your answers, and even give you some silence when you need to think.

Honest Feedback

Everyone can benefit from feedback. Even the most skilled and knowledgeable person is a beginner at something, requiring feedback to continue to grow in their new skills.

Feedback is essential to improvement. A mentor should create long-term objectives and short-term goals to help you realize your goals. Feedback should be provided during each session with your mentor and should not be degrading. Instead, feedback should inform you of a shortcoming and identify corrective actions to become more successful.

However, an effective mentor should also encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone so that you can gain new experiences, learn, and grow. A good mentor is capable of identifying your comfort zone and developing steps and activities within your goals that will help you become comfortable outside of your zone.

Finding the Right Mentor

When searching for the right mentor, it's important to identify the strengths of the mentor that you need in order for you to achieve your goals. It helps to find someone who's an expert and interested in helping you develop.

Experience in Your Field

Mentors are not just respectful, enthusiastic people. They should be considered an expert in their field and be in the same field you are working towards. Although it's possible for a good mentor not to be an expert in your field, it's usually more helpful if they understand the challenges that you'll face in the future and help you prepare and develop.

Your mentor should be respected by their peers and yours. If you choose a mentor that is not well-known in the industry, you may not get the results you desire. Many people use mentors not only as guides to develop themselves but to associate themselves with the name of that mentor. 

If your field is archeology, and your mentor is Dr. Jones (the respected and well-known professor and archeologist), you'll have the benefit of being the doctor's protege. This gives you much-needed credibility while ensuring that you have been instructed and guided correctly.

However, if Dr. Jones (the archeologist who discovered a 10-year-old basket of plastic eggs behind a bush in his backyard) is your mentor, you might not receive adequate guidance.

Interested in Helping You

You may have many people to choose from when you are shopping for a mentor. It can be similar to shopping for a shirt. When searching for the style you like, the one that fits might be in the middle or end of the pile.

Some people may try to manipulate you in your life and career, trying to become an influencer and develop you in the way that worked for them or that they think is best. However, a good mentor will create a strategy that fits your needs, talents, skills, and desires and push you towards a better you—not towards a clone of themselves.

Good mentors are life-long learners and should want to pass that desire on to those around them. A valuable trait of a mentor is the understanding that while they're experts, they don't know everything. A mentor that is comfortable with saying: "I don't know, but I will find you an answer." is someone worth considering.

Good mentors should be excited to share their knowledge with you and be willing to explore the possibility that you may have answers that they do not. A mentor that might learn from their mentee is indeed worthy of your respect and time.

The Bottom Line

Choosing a mentor does not need to be as stressful or complicated as it seems. Find one that fits you, and work to make it a rewarding experience. You'll not only find the best version of yourself, but you will have gained a life-long friend and supporter in the process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 3 A's of mentorship?

The three A's of mentoring are availability, active listening, and analysis.

  • Availability means that a mentor should offer or avail you of their time, experience, encouragement, feedback, and advice.
  • Active listening means your mentor should be quiet and attentive when you're speaking, and not distracted.
  • Analysis means good mentors should be able to analyze what you're saying, your situation, and provide detailed feedback or solutions so that you can grow.

What are the 3 C's of mentorship?

Typically the three C's of mentorship are consultant, counselor, and cheerleading. A mentor that is a consultant is an expert in their field. The counselor listens and provides constructive feedback. A good mentor is also a cheerleader providing enthusiastic support and encouraging you to achieve your goals.



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