How To Be a Good Mentor: 9 Tips for Nurturing Your Mentee Relationship

UPDATED: April 9, 2024
PUBLISHED: March 12, 2024
three women looking at laptops

Mentoring can help leaders at any stage in their career develop valuable work, life and people skills and grow their businesses, but it can be just as transformative for the mentors themselves. By connecting and coaching with a mentee, mentors can uncover deeper insights into life and leadership by embracing the role.

Knowing how to be a good mentor is one of the keys to having a successful mentor/mentee relationship. Below we’ll cover nine tips for how to teach, guide and lift up others.

1. Select people whose philosophy is similar to yours

It will be difficult to develop someone whose values are too different from your own. Being a good mentor doesn’t mean you choose just any mentee. You’ll want to make sure your philosophies and general values are aligned. Look for someone whose ideas about management and leadership align with yours, as those areas are critical for helping your mentee succeed—no matter what industry you’re in.

2. Choose people with potential you genuinely believe in

If you don’t believe in them, you won’t give them the time they need. And before long, they will discern your lack of confidence in them. Belief in their potential, on the other hand, will empower them. Some of the nation’s greatest professional athletes have come from tiny colleges that receive no publicity. All those ball players needed was for pro scouts to recognize the potential that the right opportunity could bring out. The secret of mentoring in any field is to help a person get where they are willing to go.

3. Good mentors determine what their mentee needs

Determining what potential leaders need involves looking at their strengths and weaknesses objectively. Their strengths indicate the directions they need to go and what they can become. Their weaknesses show us what they need to help them improve. Encouraging them in their strengths and helping them overcome their weaknesses will move them closer to reaching their potential.

4. Create a safe space

As with all partnerships, mentoring only succeeds if both parties work at it, but it helps if the mentor makes it easy for the mentee to drive the process and achieve objectives. The best mentors learn to listen, help the mentees think for themselves and create the space for this to happen.

Most people agree that nurturing is important to the development of children. However, they often fail to see its importance in the workplace. They assume that potential leaders will nurture themselves. If we as leaders do not nurture the potential leaders around us, they will never develop into the types of leaders we desire. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

When you nurture other people through your mentorship, everyone wins.

5. Good mentors constantly evaluate their mentees’s progress 

People need feedback, especially early in their development. Ben Franklin said, “The eye of a master will do more work than both his hands.” He knew that leaders’ ability to evaluate is their greatest strength. An honest mentor will be unbiased. If necessary, they will encourage a person to stay on course, seek another direction or even enter into a relationship with another mentor.

6. Share your experience

Mentorship is a one-on-one deeper forum where shared experiences are the keys to a higher level of self-awareness. Sharing your experience is a great way to build trust with your mentee. Doing so creates a safe space where they feel encouraged to share their experiences, hurdles and successes. 

Also when you share your stories, which may be your mentee experience or something else you want them to know, the mentees feel connected and valued.

7. Good mentors are inquisitive

Asking the right questions helps to focus on the real issues and things that your mentee needs to work on. A mentor needs to try to separate the noise from the key issues. As a mentor, you should strive to be curious and ask meaningful questions that will lead your mentee on a journey toward self-discovery. Your role is to provide guidance and facilitate learning.

8. Be committed, serious and available to the people you mentor

The development of potential leaders around you will be a reflection of your commitment to them: poor commitment equals poor development; great commitment equals great development.

By personalizing each person’s journey through your devoted mentorship, you are helping them to maximize their potential. You are giving them a chance to discover their true purpose. You also maximize their contribution to you and your organization if they’re already part of your team.

9. Create a life strategy

When coaching people on their careers, mentors should focus on helping their mentees create a life strategy that focuses on passion, lifestyle, values, economics, skill and demand. Thinking strategically about each of these elements lets you create a framework for a solid career map.
Mentoring is a powerful growth and development tool, not to mention it can be just as rewarding an experience for you as it will be for your mentees. Learning how to be a great mentor takes practice and patience, and the more time you have working with a mentee, the more you’ll learn about them and how to develop your leadership skills.

This article was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated. Photo by Drazen Zigic/

YPO is the premier chief executive leadership organization in the world, representing a global community of leaders committed to the shared mission of becoming "Better Leaders Through Lifelong Learning and Idea Exchange." YPO today provides more than 24,000 members in more than 130 countries with access to extraordinary educational resources, alliances with leading institutions, and specialized networks designed to support their business, community and personal leadership. Altogether, YPO member-run companies employ more than 15 million people around the world and generate USD6 trillion in annual revenues. For more information, visit

John C. Maxwell, an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books, has been named an inaugural SUCCESS Ambassador. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek; best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies.