How a Mentor Can Impact Your Personal and Professional Growth in the Short and Long Term

The impact a mentor can make is so powerful. I still remember one of my mentors from early in my career. The influence my mentor had played such a critical role in shaping me into the leader I want to be, and I have her to thank for leading me in the direction my career took. As the Director of Talent Development for one of the largest accounting and professional services firm in the southeast, I now have the honor of making the same impact on my team as my mentor did for me many years ago.

So, what was it that made her such an effective mentor? She demonstrated certain characteristics that I believe every mentor must possess if they want to make a lasting impact on someone. To be a strong mentor, you must:

  1. Be able to recognize individual needs and strengths. A good mentor recognizes the areas where an individual should focus their development. It might not be noticeable right from the start, but a strong mentor should take the time to explore the individual’s needs and how to tailor their development.
  2. Show empathy. This is a critical component of any mentor relationship. By showing empathy, you show that you care. Finding ways to connect with the individual in a judgment free zone goes a long way towards building rapport. Being vulnerable and showing empathy is so powerful as a leader because it provides a safe place for individuals.
  3. Be an active listener. To have a strong relationship with a mentee, you must demonstrate active listening. So much of the relationship should be about listening and truly being present for the individual.
  4. Provide feedback. This goes a long way with any relationship, but as a mentor you have an obligation to provide feedback. This should not just focus on everything the person is doing right; rather, effective feedback should be a combination of both positive and developmental conversations so the person can truly grow.
  5. Be a subject matter expert. To be a mentor, you must have credibility with those you are mentoring. Having the knowledge and experiences to help guide the individual through the topics that you are focused on is necessary.
  6. Show enthusiasm. It is so important to be a positive role model and show a personal interest in the mentoring relationship. As a mentor, you should be one of your mentee’s biggest cheerleaders and always do your best to build them up.
  7. Make the investment. Being a mentor takes time. Making sure you take the time to be available for your mentee is a huge component of your relationship. It is important that you share your availability with your mentee so they know when and how you can be reached.
  8. Value learning. A strong mentor is growth-focused and values learning no matter where an individual is in their career. They are dedicated to enhancing their skillset, whether it is through education, exposure, or experiences.
  9. Step out of comfort zones. The best mentors are those who truly challenge others to step out of their comfort zones and go beyond what they believe they can do. It might not always be pleasant at first, but in the end, there is always so much growth.
  10. Treat others with respect. Strong mentors have guiding principles that they follow, and at the top of that list is respect. As a mentor, you must always provide a safe space for your mentee and be respectful to any challenges they are currently facing. When they feel respected, they will be so much more vulnerable and open with you.

At LBMC, we provide our team members with unparalleled development and growth while building meaningful relationships. We have mentors and coaches built into a variety of our leadership and coaching programs across the firm. This includes a combination of both external and internal mentors to help guide our team members through their career at LBMC. We also have a Buddy Program in place for our new hires to help get them started at the firm. These programs continue to build strong relationships within all our sectors to truly put a focus on a coaching culture. This year, we are focused on our coaching efforts to ensure our leaders have the tools and resources they need to enhance their mentoring relationships. We believe in a people-first culture and want our team members to be encouraged to focus on their development as they progress in their career at LBMC. After all, learning is the way to grow!

Kimberly Hembree is LBMC’s Director of Talent Development. Contact her at kimberly.hembree@lbmc.com.

Want to work for an organization that understands the importance of mentoring? Join our team.