Why Being A Mentor Isn't As Scary As You Think

  • 19 February 2016
  • Randy Wollf

There are few ideas that scare people more than the thought of becoming a mentor. Being a mentor is often associated with having great wisdom and being ready to deliver profound advice on a moment’s notice. While these skills are certainly helpful, the qualities of an effective mentor are quite basic. In fact, I am confident that you have experience in each of the skills that are foundational when mentoring others. Here are four skills for helping people take next steps based on the Leader Breakthru Coaching approach.

Skill #1 - Listening

We all know that listening is important. Yet, most leaders are not listeners. We typically pre-conclude and make recommendations because we think it’s more efficient. Leaders like to fix people and things quickly.

Active listening is holding off judgment and really trying to hear what the other person is actually saying and even thinking. To do this, we need to practice the 80/20 rule – listen 80% of the time and only talk 20%.

Here are five tips for listening better:

  1. Listen with your mind – Pay attention to what the other person is saying. Don’t let your mind drift to other matters, even though they may be pressing. 
  2. Listen with your body – Body language often communicates more than our words. Active listening means that we are facing the person and maintaining appropriate eye contact (and not looking at our cell phone).
  3. Listen with your words – It’s important to summarize what you think the other person is saying, so that you know you’re hearing correctly (and so the other person knows you are listening and care about the conversation).
  4. Listen with your intuition – As you are listening, you will sometimes begin to “hear” things beneath the surface. Your intuition will notice subtle cues that will help you say things that nudge the conversation in productive directions.
  5. Listen with the Spirit – If you’re a follower of Jesus, you can be confident that the Holy Spirit is guiding you. Ask Him to give you insight into the conversation and then to guide your responses.  

Take a moment to look at the picture below. What do you see? What’s happening in this person’s life?