What does 'great' mentorship look like?

While coaching is about improving the performance today mentoring is more growth and development oriented. As a mentor you teach new skills and explain different outlooks - you inspire and help envisioning career aspirations and how to connect those into the present.

Think about a mentor as a person who walks alongside the mentee discussing their questions, giving instructions about how to approach different challenges and inspire ways towards success. As a mentor you dig deeper, you are more involved with the whole person.

You mentor by advice, by your wisdom. You mentor through stories of what others or you have done in situations similar to the mentee's. You mentor by leading her to other mentors, other situations to learn from, other resources from which to gain insights. Certainly as a mentor, your values and walking the talk are important. In essence you help them doing things they probably never knew they could do. You'll teach people how to understand and use potential their fullest. 

Of course the mentoring process requires a commitment of time on both sides. The mentee should have an idea why they are seeking the advice of a mentor and the mentor needs to understand that if they spend time mentoring, it is an invest into another person.

A mentorship relationship needs mutual trust and commitment, patience, and emotional maturity on both sides. You are spending time together and trust is one of the universals that supersedes all the aspects interpersonal interaction. The mentor is a confidante and the mentee entrusts her with her dreams and fears.

Also, be aware that mentoring often occurs at the end of a day, in the evenings or even at weekends - time outside work and the day to day stress. It is their time and space to grow, to reflect, and to learn.

Patience is especially important in the mentoring process. Once you've established the commitment and trust, you maintain it through patience. By setting expectations and goals the process will evolve strongly and you are all set for this inspirational, result-getting journey.

In order to keep the process running as a mentor you should continuously evaluate the mentees understanding and perspective ("What have I said that could be a bit clearer? If you would explain what you learned to someone else, what would you say?"). 

Encouragement is the second key aspect of your work as a mentor: They should perfectly feel comfortable asking questions, taking breaks to reflect etc.

An element that you need on both the mentor's and mentee's side is a good level of emotional maturity. As a mentor, even if you're sick of hearing the same questions over and over again, you must remain or at least appear to remain calm, focused and eager to help. As a mentee if you are impatient or uneasy about hearing feedback the process won't work either. In order to learn and grow you need to put yourself into a perspective of openness and flexibility. If you react negatively to something your mentor tells you that you (your today's version of you) doesn't like it's a good sign you're not in that required state of emotional maturity yet. 

Knowledge, good preparation and mentoring skill is the foundation for you to be a valuable confidante for your mentees. You need to know your work and the fundamentals of your own experiences. What are the problem's you faced and how did you deal with them? Ou need to be prepared to answer every aspect about the focus of your mentoring. Also you need to get to know at least a bit about your mentee: What's her background, education, her interest and skills. What's her challenge and how does she envision her future. While talking observe personality traits, and get accustomed to her way of speaking and acting. 

As a mentor you are a teacher. So learn how to teach. Figure out how people think and how they process information, how does the brain work. Also get yourself knowledge about how adults learn and what methods and practices work best for different kinds of personality types. 

If you want to be a good teacher you need to be a good learner yourself. It is essential for a mentor to consistently take in information: the latest techniques in your own field, industry trends, development in the business community, and in parallel fields. 

Do not forget that you are human beings: Tactful, positive communication, listening well, empathy patience, celebrating success, appreciation and encouragement to grow are all key ingredients for trustful and positive relationships such as a mentor - mentee relationship.

Last thing: Always remember, you are not a mentor because you chose to be a mentor but because those you help see you as their mentor.