Four Ways to Develop Change Through Mentoring

by Ron Potter

Is there a surefire, can’t-fail approach to mentoring effectively in an organizational setting? Probably not. But that should not come as a surprise because, after all, we are talking about relationships between people.

But there are some simple ideas that will help illumine your path to a satisfying and successful mentoring experience.


Encouragement is one of the mentor’s most powerful tools for leading another person to higher levels of personal growth. The Greek word for encouragement means “coming alongside.” This means helping another person by being right there, offering whatever assistance is required.

All of us need encouragement—a word from somebody who believes in us, stands by us, and reassures us. Encouragement renews our courage, refreshes our spirits, and rekindles our hope. Encouragement goes beyond appreciation to affirmation; we appreciate what a person does, but we affirm who a person is. Affirmation does not insist on a particular level of performance, and it is not earned.

Be Patient

Mentoring requires a good amount of patience from both parties. The endurance factor is quite important when the person with whom a mentor is working reacts with what might be considered a silly response (in words or actions). It takes patience to watch someone grow and develop into a better person. It takes patience to see missteps and not immediately go in and either change the behavior or solve the problem.

Be Trustworthy

As a mentor you must exhibit integrity. The person you are mentoring will be open and vulnerable only after watching you live a consistently ethical life. Trustworthiness means being reliable, faithful, and unfailing. Trustworthy leaders are honest and transparent, committed, dedicated, and keep promises and confidences. They also have the moral courage to do the right thing and to stand up for what they believe even when it is difficult to do so.

Be An Opportunist

A good mentor is always searching for mentoring opportunities. The best mentoring happens in “teachable moments.” These impromptu opportunities to share insights and experiences require no formal agenda or time schedule, just a willingness on the leader’s part to be available and recognize moments when the other person needs help. This should flow naturally and not be contrived or forced. The protégé may not even realize that a “mentoring moment” has occurred.

The opportunity to mentor exists in every setting where people need to draw on one another’s talents to accomplish a goal.

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