The following qualities are useful attributes, and anyone considering whether to be a coach or mentor will find this a useful checklist:
- A mundane but vital consideration is that you have the time available to meet regularly – say for an hour every four to six weeks – with your client.
- You must be able to build the right kind of relationship and rapport with your client. You need to have good listening skills. You must be able to offer both support and challenge. You must be able to work both non-judgementally and non-directively, giving the client the space to try things out in their own way and, if necessary, learn from their mistakes. The mentor needs to be able to share their own experiences in a way that leaves the client free to take what they want to use and leave what they don’t.
- You must totally respect confidentiality.
- You need to be interested both in your own learning and development and in supporting the learning and development of others. If a manager has a reputation for not being particularly good at developing their own staff, why would they be any better at developing someone else’s?
- It is also useful if you have a positive but realistic view of the world.