SKILLS AND QUALITIES MENTORS NEED TO BE EFFECTIVE IN THEIR ROLE
Mentoring is a vital component of educational training that builds one’s behaviour and abilities. This practice is often characterized by career development, self-development, and professional development of the mentee. Scholars identify mentoring as a modern element of succeeding in contemporary society (Gabriele, 2010). Through mentoring, individuals are able to avoid bad habits and adopt healthy and beneficial values that drive them to high levels of success. Strategic mentoring interaction is rewarding since it has the potential of attracting various benefits in society. Mentors are able to offer brilliant experiences for their mentees thus developing their mentees’ thinking, awareness, and perspective. However, mentoring people in the right direction is challenging because the human population is highly diverse. People have varying backgrounds, cultures, understanding, and personal values. This means that a particular strategy may be productive in inducing a change in one person but fail to work in another. Besides this challenge, mentors must find strategic ways of realizing their objectives. This means that mentors should be highly dynamic and have diverse skills and qualities to be effective in their roles. Particularly, mentoring is a noble and challenging role that requires high competence and professionalism. The paper provides a critical discussion that explores the skills and qualities, which mentors need to be successful in their roles.
Initially, an important quality of good mentoring includes being an optimistic role model. A role model regards a person who is exclusively successful in personal life or a particular area of specialization that others emulate to attain his or her level. Mentees are essentially in pursuit of successful individuals of extraordinary character and ability that are admirable. This means that good mentors must command respect from their mentees. Tolhurst & Tolhurst (2010) argues that mentors should think of a personality that mentees would develop if they copied their behaviour since the mentor’s habit is capable of influencing the mentee’s behaviour. This especially includes considering whether the mentees would develop a beneficial or a destructive habit. Mentees mainly develop influential values that control their behaviour and actions by merely looking at how their mentor reacts in any specific situation. Furthermore, good mentors search for experiences or formulate situations in which their mentees participate, thus learning new concepts. Sarsani (2006 p.147) defines best mentors as individuals who have a high degree of credibility. In essence, mentors should be knowledgeable and intelligent to respond to various questions prompted by the mentees. This does not essentially mean that mentors should be in the position of answering all questions posed by their mentees; however, good mentors need to have the ability to provide the best answers. This is because mentees expect the best counsel from their mentors who they consider superheroes.
Furthermore, mentors need to have good qualities of counseling to be successful in their roles. A mentor should be well organized and be in a position of articulating a clear mission. According to Marquardt & Loan (2005), there should be aspects of vision, purpose, and objectives related to mentoring. Mentors should be able to make their mentees value the need and significance of emulating the desired habit. Adopting a desired habit or undertakings is often challenging meaning that only individuals with the knowledge of the purpose of the practice can persevere for better results. Jonson (2008) introduces an important insight on the essentials of successful mentoring by articulating that the idea mentoring is not only characterized by competence and experience but also depends on the appropriate management of personal qualities. A mentor should have knowledge that may be partly intuitive of what the mentee is attempting to achieve. The scholar further asserts that mentors should have knowledge of the environment in which the mentoring relationship is occurring. Particularly, mentors should have knowledge of how various things are done through this experience (Jonson, 2008).
On the other hand, the ability to counsel is essential because mentees largely depend on their mentors in tackling challenges that affect their endeavours. Mentorship essentially entails advising; however, a good mentor advises by employing permissive but not authoritarian strategies. Good counseling qualities include fostering flexibility, respect, tolerance and being dexterous, and being informed (Connor & Pokora, 2012 p. 20). Firstly, flexibility is essential because a mentor is attempting to impose a change to a person of different personality, understanding, and perspectives. Besides the mentor’s belief and trust in some ideologies, remaining stuck in his or her perspective is detrimental. Mentors should pay attention to the arguments presented by their mentees and attempt to evaluate the situation from the mentee’s perspective to embrace essential adjustments when the need arises (Sarsani, 2006). Furthermore, a good mentor tolerates and respects the state and opinions of their mentees while working hard in helping them become more insightful. Tolerance is essential in avoiding conflicts or barriers that may obstruct the mentorship process. In attempting to explain the significance of patience and tolerance when mentoring, Jonson (2008) asserts that successful mentors offer their clients a chance of making mistakes and utilize such mistakes as learning opportunities. Mentors also need to be informed and foresighted to be in a position of providing good counsel for empowering mentees to overcome disturbing challenges. Mentoring is challenging because mentees present considerably challenging situations and mentors must provide strategic guidance that would enable them to establish solutions to their problems. Accordingly, a mentor who lacks good knowledge of the contemporary issues, theoretical frameworks, and the available strategies for approaching diverse situations lack the potential of providing good mentorship (Marquardt & Loan, 2005).
Connor & Pokora (2012) argues that mentors should present confidence in their communication expertise to be effective in their role. Mentoring involving guiding individuals into embracing a particular perspective in preference of others, which explains why the mentor must present mastery of communications skills such as listening, triggering debates, arguing, and explaining their position. Initially, mentoring is a two-way process, which highlights the significance of having listening skills. The mentor and mentee should listen to each other and reason together in identifying a solution to the presented problem. Particularly, the mentor being the overseer of the process should have high listening skills to be able to understand the mentee’s situation and concerns. This becomes essential since its only after gaining a good insight of the presented challenge that the mentor can be able to design a corrective strategy. Furthermore, the mentee is highly motivated on realizing that the mentor is paying attention to his or her concerns. Campbell (2007 p. 29) guides that mentors need to act as a rational board when engaging their mentees in a conversation in order to be successful in their role. Calculative arguments highlight that mentees benefit a lot from interaction in which a mentor listens to them and allow them to survey their thoughts and proposals openly. This offers mentee a chance of unraveling their view and develop insights regarding a situation in the process of sharing their concerns.
The significance of the need of the mentor to have skills for triggering debates is explained by the importance of encouraging mentees to establish solutions to their problems. Studies assert that effective mentors are problem solvers. However, the mentors ’strategy of solving their clients’ problems is unique in the sense that mentors provide resources and initiate a driving force that enhances solution identification instead of providing straightforward answers. According to Cox (2005 p.40) effective mentors challenges their mentee with open questions. The scholar argues that this is a strategic skill for effective mentoring because the practice enables the mentor to establish the mentee’s real needs, passion and beliefs. Furthermore, asking open questions provides an effective approach of challenging mentees to reflect through situations themselves thus visualizing the consequences of diverse choices or actions that they can adopt. Accordingly, effective mentorship demands mentors to be competent in triggering such conversations in which they share their wisdom while leaving their mentees to make decisions on their own.
A mentor also needs to have skills for engaging in constructive arguments and defending his or her position by citing rational and practical examples in order to be effective in his or her role. This essentially means that effective mentors need to be good negotiators. Possibility of divergence in opinions and perspectives between the mentor and the mentee demand one party to have high convincing power to lure the other into the desired position. In this respect, mentors have the challenging task of marketing their ideologies to their clients, which affirms the significance of having persuasive skills. In order to be effective in their role, mentors should not shy from challenges raised by their clients, but they need to have strategic skills to outweigh their clients in arguments. Cox (2005) argues that mentors need to be ideas bouncers to be successful in their endeavor. This entails attempting to win the argument by helping their clients reflect and create new ideas that are open to discussion and evaluation of literature. This encourages the mentees into identifying the weakness in their perspective thus embracing the mentor’s ideologies or formulating better values.
Furthermore, a mentor needs to be fully interested in their mentee’s life in order to be effective in their role. Campbell (2007) asserts that the mentoring interaction is essentially a personal one, and often entirely important to the mentee. In this respect, the scholar guides that a mentor should ensure he or she knows their mentees personally. This includes understanding the mentee’s desires and hopes in order to propose an effective strategy that would aid the realization of the identified aspirations. Mentors should be available and present willingness to listen and motivate. Particularly, utilizing a humanistic and empathic approach when addressing the mentees’ problems can enable mentors to succeed in their roles. This means that mentors should consider their clients’ worries and needs. A mentor who presents these qualities is effective in his or her role because the strategy enhances commitment as mentees develop a notion that their mentor is concerned about their development. In essence, the mentees value the procedure as they get convinced that the process has the sole aim of benefiting them. This eliminates resistances thus enabling mentors to realize their role (Tolhurst & Tolhurst, 2010 p. 172).
According to Aston & Hallam (2011 p. 34), mentors should be good motivators who are insightful and able to support the aims of plans and accomplish their duties to the candidate. Skills for motivating and inspiring candidates by utilizing every situation as a strategic opportunity for teaching are essential in succeeding in the role of mentoring. In particular, a mentor should employ essential strategies to ensure that their candidates remain energized until they attain their goals. A good mentor should be envisioned to keen to adopt change and motivate the candidate to visualize beyond the present and pursue improvements. In this sense, a mentor needs to be a standard prodder by examining and fostering the further improvement of the standards. This means that a mentor should demonstrate mastery of modern concepts and attempt to match their candidates’ activities to their level. This trait presents a good mentor as an eye open and challenger who inspires a candidate into higher levels and standards. In order to be effective in their role, mentors should have skills for motivating the mentees to view a wider picture beyond their background. For example, a good mentor can empower the candidates by making them evaluate a situation from political, scientific or management perspectives. Bird (2006) asserts that mentors should be challengers and criticize constructively to sharpen and revitalize the mentee. A good mentor is a challenger in the sense that he or she enables mentees to grow critically by motivating them to question and examine perspectives and the existing norms. Furthermore, a mentor should highlight areas that need further improves by essentially emphasizing on the candidate’s habit but not his or her character.
Lastly, mentors need to be practical and acknowledge achievements to succeed in their role. The idea of being practical regards the utilization of rational and apparent examples in presenting their ideologies. Aston & Hallam (2011) encourages mentors to share their experiences to provide mentees with practical encounters from which they can learn. This strategy is effective because the mentees are able to learn from the mistakes initially committed by the mentor thus avoiding them. This also enables mentees to acknowledge the fact that they ought to face various challenges in course of pursuing their plans. Accordingly, the mentees are prepared to face the emerging challenges and are provided with insights on how to face such challenges. Furthermore, acknowledging any achievement realized by the mentee is essential in maintaining and developing his or her morale. In essence, mentees develop confidence in their ability to attain their goals when the mentor is keen to note and celebrate any achievement that they present.
It is apparent that mentoring is a challenging endeavour that demands individuals envisioning it to have various strategic qualities and skills to be effective in their role. Although the process of mentoring is problematic, the practice is of high-profit value. This highlights the significance of fostering good mentoring in order to reap the benefit of the practice. However, good mentoring is only realizable if mentors are empowered with the knowledge of the essential qualities and skills that they need to have to be effective in their role. The qualities discussed in the study include being good role models, being skilled in both communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to manage the mentoring process effectively through fostering insightfulness and inclusiveness and acknowledging mentee’s achievement can ensure that mentors are effective in their role.
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