Would You Make A Good Mentor?

What makes a good mentor?

Teachers need mentors and not just experienced ones either. We all need someone to help us hurdle challenges, achieve our goals and be a sounding board. Mentoring is vital to all learning organisations.

But not everyone is cut out to be a mentor. Mentoring is an art even though when it is stripped down to its most basic level, mentoring is about a partnership and “simply the act of helping another learn.”

This is what Chip R. Bell and Marshall Goldsmith say in their their classic book Managers as Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning.

They continue,

“Mentors” are people (especially leaders) who engage in deliberate actions aimed at promoting learning.”…”Bottom line, a mentor is simply someone who helps someone else learn something that would have otherwise been learned less well, more slowly, or not at all.”

There are a few mentor tests out there designed to quiz us and help us work out whether we have the skills but Chip Bell’s questionnaire is probably the best known.

This is a series of 39 questions with just two possible answers and we answer them as a best-fit. This mentor scale is designed to help evaluate strengths, areas for development and tease out blind spots.

Examples of these questions include:

6. People generally see me as a person who is    

      a.   formal                       b.   personable

7. When it comes to social situations, I tend to   

     a.   hold back                 b.   jump in

8. I like to spend my leisure time in ways that are fairly   

     a.   spontaneous             b.   routine

9. I believe leaders should be more concerned about employee 

     a.   rights                        b.   feelings

10. When I encounter people in need of help, I’m more likely to 

    a.   avoid                        b.   pitch-in

There are 13 questions (mixed up) that measure someone’s capacity for sociability, dominance and openness.

  • People with high sociability scores will find the rapport-building and dialogue dimensions of mentoring easier.
  • People with high dominance scores may be reluctant to share control.
  • People with low openness scores are likely to be cautious and reluctant to share their feelings.

For a further discussion of these areas then see here.

Take the test yourself and see whether you are mentor material or whether you’d be more suited to being a coach.

Further reading:

See the University of Wolverhampton Business School’s handbook on mentoring.

Scottish Social Services Council – Mentoring: Supporting and Promoting Professional Development and Learning

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