3 Fundamentals for Successful Mentoring

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mentorshipwrtBy Annu Ross

Mentoring can be a transformative experience. Individuals develop work and life skills, businesses grow and families come closer together. But, these results are not exclusive to the mentee. Mentors also find deeper insights on life and leadership by embracing the role.

With the recent surge of interest in mentoring, particularly in business and among executives, there is an endless collection of articles, books and websites on the value of mentoring and how to be a mentor. But what makes a great mentor? YPO members (and mentors) share three fundamentals for mentoring success:


“As with all partnerships, mentoring only succeeds if both parties work at it, but it helps if the mentor makes it easy for the mentee to drive the process and achieve objectives,” offers Gerhard Van Der Horst, a member of the YPO Cape Town Chapter. “The best mentors learn to listen, assist the mentees to think for themselves and create the space for this to happen.”

Being an open, vulnerable and adaptive mentor lends itself to creating an environment of trust and security where the mentee can freely express and reflect. Creating a safe haven is key to a fruitful mentoring relationship.


“Conscious listening creates understanding,” says sound and listening expert Julian Treasure in his “Five Ways to Listen Better” TED Talk. This is a crucial part of effective mentoring — to really listen and understand.

Treasure’s guide to conscious listening includes the acronym RASA (the Sanskrit word for essence) — receives, appreciate, summarize, and ask— which echoes YPO forum protocol’s active listening model.

“A great mentor takes the time to learn about the mentee’s desires, skills and shortcomings to better help the mentee chart a path for success,” says Suzanne McKechnie Klahr, a member of the YPO Northern California Chapter.

“Mentorship is a one-on-one deeper forum experience where the shared experiences are the keys to a higher level of self-awareness,” reflects Themba Baloyi, a member of the YPO Pretoria Chapter.

“Developing active listening skills through a mentorship journey becomes a powerful force for personal change.” Richard Day, a member of the Cape Town Chapter and a mentor in the YPO Mentoring Program, explains that active listening and clarifying questions build strong relationships. “Asking the right questions helps to focus on the real issues,” Day says. “A mentor needs to try and separate the noise from the key issues.“

YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) is a not-for-profit, global network of young chief executives connected through the shared mission of becoming Better Leaders Through Education and Idea Exchange™. For more information, visit www.ypo.org.


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