The qualities of a good mentor include effective communication, trust, flexibility, kindness, patience, tolerance, and transparency. Mentors with these skills can boost their effectiveness by following these tips:
- Identify what your protégé expects to get from your relationship and be clear with them about resources you’ll be able to offer, including your availability for meetings.
- Share your network: introduce your protégé to people in your network and encourage your protégé to approach new people and introduce him or herself.
- Make a long-term commitment to the mentoring relationship. Be available to the protégé and follow up to maintain contact throughout his or her career.
- Teach your protégé to advocate for and promote themselves through advice on job negotiations, grants, etc.
- Understand work/life balance. As a mentor, be real, not a superhero. Share your human stories and personal experiences with your protégé.
- Treat protégés as individuals. Help them identify strengths and weaknesses, provide constructive feedback, and don’t expect the protégé to fit a rigid mold.
- Teach the value of good science in conjunction with publishing.
- Know that mentoring requires unselfish motivation; giving without expecting anything in return.
- Understand how the field evolves and the differences from your experience as a student.
- Care about the needs of your protégé. This includes understanding their professional development questions.
- Lead by example. Be ethical in dealing with people.
These are just some ideas of how to be a good mentor. Do you have others that have worked for you in the past, or that you wished your mentor had known? Let your colleagues know below.
Adapted from the Celebration of Women in Neuroscience discussion, "Top Five Priorities to Get the Most out of Mentoring and Networking.”