What the Best Mentors Do
Anthony K. Tjan, founder and CEO of the venture capital firm Cue Ball, writes that mentorship only really works when decision makers practice a form of leadership that is less about creating followers and more about creating other mentors. How exactly can this be accomplished? For one, mentors should put the relationship before the mentorship. Too often, mentorships evolve into "check the box" procedures rather than being deeper and more relationship-based. "For real mentorship to succeed," Tjan asserts, "there needs to be a baseline chemistry between a mentor and a mentee." A second rule of thumb is to focus on character rather than competency. There are too many mentors who treat mentoring as a training program focused only on the acquisition of job skills. The best mentors go beyond competency and place greater emphasis on shaping character, values and empathy.

A third principle to adhere to when mentoring, according to Tjan, is to "shout loudly with your optimism and keep quiet with your cynicism." Mentors should be givers of energy, not takers of it. In this regard, it is best to consider why a mentee's idea might work before you consider why it might not. "The best way to inspire commitment is to be fully and selflessly committed to the best interests of colleagues and employees," concludes Tjan, "Help them find their calling."
Harvard Business Review (02/27/17) Tjan, Anthony K.
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