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What Characteristics make a good Mentor?

15th January 21

Mentors play a huge part in the personal and professional development of others. So much so that 67% of businesses have shown an increase in productivity because of mentoring relationships. This coupled with the wide-raging benefits of becoming a mentor has seen the number of mentors increase considerably.

Without a national regulation for becoming qualified, anyone can offer these services. Many individuals form mentoring relationships with friends, family members, co-workers, former managers or people they’ve met through networking.

But that’s not to say everyone who assumes the role of a mentor does so effectively. There is a lot that goes into being a good mentor. Aside from learning the essential knowledge and frameworks for constructive mentorship, you’ll need to demonstrate certain characteristics.

These distinguishing traits will separate you from the rest. By demonstrating the below, you’ll position yourself as the obvious choice when someone is looking for guidance in your field.

learndirect - What Characteristics make a good Mentor?

Positive & Resilient

A good mentor exhibits the behaviours and mindset required to be successful in the area the mentee is seeking guidance. They have a positive get up and go attitude, even in the face of losses and setbacks. Showing the mentee that you’re not to throw in the towel at the first hurdle.

There are many challenges on the route to success which can be overcome. Great mentors are typically successful in their area but also had to work hard to get there. By demonstrating resilience, mentees will learn to adapt and overcome future obstacles.

Mentors use this mindset to push mentees to step out of their comfort zone. As they recognise the only way to learn is by taking on new experiences. They’ll do so by identifying their limits and setting tasks, in line with their goals, that will challenge them.


Good mentors build confidence in others by setting examples that motivate and inspire the mentee to take action. They constantly challenge themselves and push their own boundaries, which they discuss openly with the mentee.

In these conversations, they show mentees that it’s ok to try new things and the results that can be achieved. Leading by example allows them to be living proof of what is attainable through hard work and determination. They’ll also use these conversations to pick the brains of the mentee to determine their own goals. Once decided, they assist in formulating an action plan and determining what steps need to be taken to succeed.

learndirect - Characteristics that make a good Mentor - Motivational


As a mentor, it’s vital you have a genuine interest in the mentoring relationship. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, it becomes painfully obvious and all other characteristics fall by the wayside.

You should feel invested in the achievements of your mentees. Using your knowledge and experience to enable them to reach the highest levels of their own success. You’ll be committed to the process and dedicated to empowering others to develop their own strengths, beliefs and personal attributes.

If you’re not sincerely enthusiastic about the mentee’s goals and ambitions, they’ll sense this and feel like they aren’t worthwhile. Not only damaging your credibility as a mentor but also how they view themselves.


Anyone in any walk of life should have respect for others, but it’s also incredibly important as a mentor. You can’t be seen to criticise, judge or mistreat mentees. This behaviour would not only be unconstructive, it would be detrimental to your work as a mentor.

Instead, mentors must be empathetic, tactful and emotionally intelligent in their conversations. By being aware of yours and the mentees emotions, you’ll better read the room and appropriately word your response.

learndirect - Characteristics of a good Mentor - Respectful

Able to Listen

While mentors must talk to provide guidance and insight, they also need to be great listeners. You may have answers in your head that have worked for previous mentees with similar issues. But, if you don’t listen, you’ll fail to see the differences in each person’s situation.

To steer mentees in the right direction towards their goals, you need to listen and ask questions. Be curious about what they’re doing and why, so you can spot any errors or room for improvement.  

By being an active listener, you’ll hear what mentees are saying through their words and beyond. This way, your questions will be better constructed to evoke insightful answers. Drawing more out of each session and painting a clearer picture of the mentees route to success.  


Good mentors are honest and place high value on transparency. Unlike friends or family members who may feel obliged to tell mentees what they want to hear. Instead, mentors recognise the need for tough love and constructive feedback. This helps mentees see their situation for what it is and removes any misconceptions they may have had.

Mentees are only able to work on their strengths and weaknesses when they have an accurate awareness of what they are. By being completely honest, you can reinforce their successes while helping them improve so they come out stronger. To do this effectively you’ll need to be kind but also constructive, direct and not afraid of saying what a mentee needs to hear.

learndirect - What Characteristics make a good Mentor - Honesty

These and many other characteristics help to identify a good mentor in a crowded market. By demonstrating the above and having experience in a common area, prospective mentees will feel assured of your mentoring ability.

If you’re reading this as an aspiring mentor, you can learn the skills you need to be a success online.

The ILM Level 3 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring (Mentoring Pathway) can be studied online, from home.

Allowing you to learn all that’s required to be an effective mentor, without disrupting your current schedule.

It will introduce you to what coaches and mentors do and the processes they follow. Plus, the qualities and abilities you need to be effective in these roles. You’ll also learn how to develop yourself and others, as well as skills and methods to improve performance.

learndirect is one of the UK’s leading online course providers. Offering numerous mentor and coaching courses to help you help others succeed.

Move towards a mentoring position by enrolling on our online course today.

learndirect - study coaching and mentoring courses online

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