An effective mentor is a priceless asset that can transform your career or life. According to John C Maxwell, one of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.

At the end of the day a strong mentor is only one part of the mentoring equation. A hardworking and dedicated mentee is required to make mentor mentee relationship beneficial. I have written a post on the 17 top qualities of a great mentee. Feel free to also check out this article.

Hereunder are 10 top qualities of an effective mentor.

Ability to share skills and knowledge

A credible mentor is someone who is able, skilled and willing to transfer knowledge to a mentee. The mentor must also be willing to dedicate and commit time to the relationship.

A mentor need not be someone who has completed the goal that a mentee wants to attain. An individual who is just a few steps ahead can provide valuable insight to a mentee. Sometimes, this can be beneficial as the mentor is closer to the pain points that that mentee is experiencing.

Leads by Example

No one wants to follow someone who only talks about how things should be done. A great mentor needs to demonstrate knowledge by his/her actions and historical experiences.

Stories and other examples of how these have worked in his/her career or life will add much value to the mentoring relationship.


Everyone learns and implements at a different pace. A successful mentor has patience to give the mentee space to learn, experiment, get lost and then found.

Grace will be needed in situations where the same instructions may need to be repeated multiple times.

Provides a Safe Environment to Fail

According to Hank Aaron, failure is a part of success. Failure is a critical ingredient to growth.

An effective mentor encourages failure and provides a safe environment so that the mentee can make countless errors without feeling criticised or demoralised.

While there will be situations where a tough love approach will be required, an overly critical reaction or feedback may make the mentee dispirited.


According to Oprah Winfrey, a mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. Mentors should motivate mentees to the focus and work steadfastly towards a goal.

Having a mentor who is a great motivator and is motivated to see a mentee succeed is a recipe for an unstoppable team.


For a mentor mentee relationship to be successful, there must be regular communication between both parties. The mentor must be able to communicate both positive and negative feedback in a timely fashion.

Effective listening skills will help in narrowing down the areas where support is required. At times, the mentee may not be fully able to articulate challenges. Active listening will help in these instances as well as misunderstandings will be avoided.

A schedule should be established where both parties meet for regular updates.

Manages Expectations

It is important that the mentor manages the mentee’s expectations. Big goals tend to take a lot longer than we expect.

Setting clear and realistic expectations can help the mentee maintain confidence and reduce overwhelm throughout the process. This is especially critical when the journey to the goal is a marathon.


Usually a mentor is a seasoned professional, an expert in the respective field and someone who wears multiple hats. An effective mentor will be focused and present during the mentee mentor meetings. 

To ensure that this is achieved at the meetings, distractions must be non-existent. The mentee must in turn respect the mentor’s time so that optimum productivity is attained.


An effectual mentor is someone who keeps confidence. A mentee must be able to trust that whatever information is shared during and after the mentoring relationships ends will remain private for the foreseeable future.

If this trust bond is absent, the value that the mentor can add will significantly diminish as the mentee will be uncomfortable sharing deep sentiments.


A great mentor is one who genuinely cares about the success of the mentor in the given area. If this is not felt, then the relationship will wither. It not uncommon for mentor mentee relationships to grow and develop into lifelong friendships.

An example of a famous mentor mentee relationship was that of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. According to the website, The Chronicle of Evidence based mentoring, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs served as a mentor to Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

Jobs and Zuckerberg met regularly during the start-up phase of Facebook to discuss business and managerial best practices for the company. Zuckerberg referred to Jobs as a mentor and friend in his tribute when Jobs passed away in 2011.

There are several articles on this blog on mentorship which you may find useful. Feel free to click any of the links below to explore:-

33 Great Mentoring Quotes

How To Ask Someone To Mentor You

How To Find A Mentor For Your Career

7 Important Factors To Consider When Choosing Your  Mentor

14 Top Career Mentoring Questions To Ask A Mentee

10 Top Career Questions To Ask A Mentor

6 Valuable Benefits of Mentoring To Advance Your Career

10 Top Questions To Ask A Mentee

17 Top Qualities of A Great Mentee

Five Top Questions To Ask A Reverse Mentee

Final Thoughts

Having a mentor is critical in advancing your career and life. The importance of mentorship is supported by several verses throughout the bible. One of my favorite mentoring scriptures is from the Book of Proverbs.

It states iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Therefore in choosing a mentor, ensure that he/she carries the above traits to ensure a fruitful and productive mentoring relationship.

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Top Qualities of An Effective Mentor

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