Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters: Becoming an Effective Mentor

Choose Mentees Carefully   

A mentee should be curious, organized, efficient, responsible, and engaged. Sometimes mentors can even consider testing mentees on their responsiveness. My mentor asked me to watch four TEDTalks, listen to one podcast, attend a workshop, and read six books. I not only did all of them, but also typed out what I like, dislike, and potential improvements for a productive discussion.

Establish a Mentorship Team  

The primary mentor should function as the go-to person, providing mentees with moral support, career support, institutional support, choosing a project focus, helping build a network, strategizing for success. Oftentimes, one person can’t do it all. Find a strong team to help offload some of that work to provide the best experience for mentees. I personally have 12 mentors in my life. Each mentor has a completely different purpose and is good at different things to support me in my pursuit.

Run a Tight Ship

Running a tight ship can help the mentorship to be more productive. A few things to consider:

  • Clarify what your mentee expects from the relationship,
  • Match it against your expectations, and reach consensus,
  • Establish a cadence for communication,
  • Make it clear that accountability isn’t optional

We often don’t do the last one. Accountability is key to ensure success. “Crucial Accountability” is a great -book for those interested in learning more about accountability.

Head Off Rifts…or Resolve Them 

Sometimes rifts become obvious suddenly, very vocal from the mentee, “What? Why would you suggest that I don’t put family first and only take on a career?” At other times, either the mentor or the mentee may be completely unaware that there is a rift. Mentees weren’t comfortable asking for the resources. Mentors must recognize that disagreements and misunderstandings are almost inevitable in these relationships and that the mentor, not the mentee, is responsible for avoiding or repairing rifts.

Don’t Commit Mentorship Malpractice 

Don’t take credit for mentees’ ideas. Don’t insist that your mentees advance your projects on a timeline that doesn’t work for the mentee. Don’t discourage your mentees from seeking other mentors. Don’t allow mentees to repeat common self-destructive mistakes.

Prepare for the Transition

Transitions are inevitable. Some of the mentors in Toastmasters even have strict rules in place where they’d only be a mentee’s mentor for one pathway. Then that mentee needs to look for other mentors and learn from others’ style. Also, sometimes we need to see if a mentee is ready to be a mentor. This is very important to make sure the mentee has achieved real expertise and has a coping, generous personality before suggesting for the mentee to become a mentor. Article by written by Renee Yao, Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters President. For more articles and the presentation video click here

By Maren Gonzales
Maren Gonzales Communications Associate