Being a successful, purpose-driven mentor is not always an easy ride. Although rewarding, guiding upcoming entrepreneurs in developing the future businesses our society needs comes with its challenges. Don’t worry, help is at hand. In this article, 5 of our Bridge mentors share their advice to unlocking purpose-driven business mentorship.
It won’t come as a surprise that practising great emotional intelligence is key to successful business mentoring. And one of the cornerstones of solid emotional intelligence? Empathy.
As a startup mentor, you’re offering a perspective on the vision and dreams of your mentee and, while they’ll need your valuable support, you’ll need to learn to share your ideas in a way that’s constructive and non-judgemental.
Being able to understand the challenges your mentee is going through is key. The ups and downs of building a business and the sacrifices they’ve made to take on that challenge. And no, you don’t need to have been an entrepreneur yourself to imagine this.
On empathy, Mayte Varela 13x Bridge mentor and CEO of Mayte Varela Mentoring says: “Empathy is a very powerful tool in a Mentoring relationship. From my perspective, as a mentor it’s very important to relate to my mentees on the personal and professional level and have patience and compassion, accepting that we can be vulnerable and honest.
In this sense, my mentoring relationships are not based in right or wrong questions or answers. The point is to start a conversation, listen, learn, grow, share opinions, not judge and challenge ourselves.
Being emphatic with my mentees is a main key point in a long lasting and successful mentoring relationship, it takes some time and patience to build it.”
Izabela Serowik, Bridge mentor from Johnson &Johhson also champions empathy: “It’s all about jumping into the process with your mentee — being right there with them as they work through various situations, empathizing with their experience, and being able to offer suggestions or an alternate perspective.”
2. Constructive Feedback
But it’s not just emotional intelligence that you’ll want to bear in mind. As a mentor, you’ll need to put that emotional intelligence towards giving meaningful feedback to ensure entrepreneurs are developing in their journey.
Antonio Olombrada Bridge mentor and CEO of Blash Design says : “I have been mentoring entrepreneurs, students, and young professionals for many years, and one of the points that I always underline is giving feedback.
For me, it’s very important to share my opinion and thoughts about the entrepreneur’s idea, not to change it, but to start a discussion about how to improve it.
I always say that when you’re giving feedback, never ask yourself… Do I like what I’m seeing? Instead of that ask, what improvements can be made? And make sure the entrepreneur also has that mindset of looking for improvement, not for the approbation…having a critical vision is crucial for entrepreneurs.”
3. Entrepreneurial Mindset
This brings about another key quality of any great business mentor which is the ability to support your mentee in the development of an entrepreneurial mindset. Sara Hammoud Founder of Benzinati and mentor from our program with IDEA App says: “As a mentor, my role consists of helping Mariana [her mentee] acquire business skills and forge an entrepreneurial mindset.
Mariana learned how to formulate strong strategies, identify the metrics evaluating the performance of the set strategy, and build the intuition to interpret the data and apply the necessary changes to improve performance. This is crucial in teaching an entrepreneur that success is not a coincidence but rather the result of a job well done. ”
4. Active Listening
But giving feedback and supporting your mentee in developing this mindset are redundant without one crucial skill: active listening.
CIPD has found that although we spend a lot of time ‘hearing’, experts estimate that only 25-50% of this time is spent actually ‘listening’.
But why is the ability to listen actively so important for mentors?
Well, active listening allows you to dive-deeper into the emotions and challenges your mentee has.
A mentor who fully understands the power of active listening will use the comments given by their mentor to give direction to the questions they need to ask to challenge their mentee further.
According to Diana Piemari, mentor from our program with LEINN, “The ability of active listening is the groundwork of a solid and trustful relationship between the mentor and the mentee.
Mentoring is not teaching, which means that most of the time the mentee will be speaking, reporting and showing progress while the mentor that has to put listening as the first priority. The role of the mentor is to inspire and share knowledge, building a collaborative space where the mentee feels free to talk and express his/her thoughts with no judgments.”
In the end, mentoring is about building a trusting and two-way relationships which, when done right, leads to learning from both sides – mentor and mentee. Harnessing the four points mentioned above (active listening, empathy, entrepreneurial mindset and critical feedback) will go a long way in developing this