How to Be a Great Mentor

Mentorship can feel like something you should do, especially if you’re a woman whose achieved a certain level of success. 

Having said that, mentorship is not necessarily something that comes naturally, so what if you want to throw your hat in the ring, but don’t know where to start?

For mentorship to be effective, there are structures you can put in place so everybody wins. 

We’ve covered that from the mentee side, but how about from your side as a mentor? In developing our global programming for IMPERIA, we’ve developed best practices that we consider to be the 5 Pillars of Effective Mentorship

These cover the breadth of what it means to show up, be present, and be an asset to the person you’ve offered to support. There’s nothing complicated in any of the pillars — but they do require something of you, and when deployed, can help develop other human beings in a profound way.

5 Pillars of Effective Mentorship

  1. Ask questions. It can be difficult to know where to start, so sometimes it’s easiest to start with questions. What specifically is your mentee looking for assistance with? Refining the idea? Financial models? Pitch and presentation tips? Industry knowledge? If you know what her goals are, it becomes much easier for you to deliver on them in a concrete, meaningful way. 
  1. Set expectations. It’s equally important for your mentee to know what you are prepared to deliver from your side of the relationship. You may want to convey your strengths (a vast network, industry knowledge, coaching, etc.) so they know how best to make requests of you. In addition, you’ll want to ensure you remove the intimidation factor by addressing it. Find out where she might be challenged in asking questions or making requests of you so she has explicit permission from you (this helps conquer “good girl” syndrome, where we don’t want to be a bother, or too much trouble). 
  1. Set a schedule. It’s easy for everyone to get excited at the beginning of a mentor relationship — and then life gets in the way and time can fly by. We suggest creating a set call at a time when you’re both at your best.
  1. Create measurable results. In order to know if progress is being made, measurable results can provide a road map. It may be helpful to set milestones from call to call to ensure your mentee is moving forward with her goals. Try to set SMART goals whenever possible (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound).
  1. Keep your promises. In order to really make a difference, your mentee needs to know she can count on you. Keep your appointments and deliver on your commitments (why we suggest setting expectations and measurable results). 

With these guardrails in place, there is then room to create and bond, with a clear path toward the goal of the relationship. The ambiguities that typically cloud (and even sour) relationships have been addressed ahead of time, setting you up to have a bigger impact on the world of mentorship.


Wednesday Wisdom takes a deeper dive into the core concepts of IMPERIA’s work, helping to strengthen you from the inside out as you scale your vision.

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