What Skills Should a Mentor Have?

Elliott Allan Hilsinger

March 10, 2023

a Mentor

Whether face-to-face or virtual, mentors must have communication skills to ensure the mentoring relationship is successful.

Effective mentors know how to listen to their mentees, provide feedback, and support them in achieving their goals. Here are five essential skills that every mentor should have:

Listening Skills

A good mentor listens to their mentees and takes the time to hear their perspectives and ideas. This allows the mentee to work out solutions for themselves.

A mentor’s listening skills can help them build mentee confidence and support them to achieve their goals. Effective listening can also reduce misunderstandings and wasted work in the workplace.

Active listening involves paying attention to what the speaker is saying, mirroring their body language, nodding, and showing interest in the discussion. It also includes paraphrasing what they’ve said and clarifying questions if you need help understanding something they’re saying.

The best way to become a better listener is to practice. It’s important to listen and respond respectfully and avoid making unfair assumptions.

Observation Skills

Having observation skills can be an important part of being a mentor. They enable you to understand the mentee’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can provide them with appropriate feedback.

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for the more practical aspects of the role, like ensuring that the mentee has a clear career objective and a suitable set of competencies to achieve it.

It can also help you identify which of your mentees are best placed to benefit from the most up-to-date professional development programs. It’s a useful skill that will ensure that the most valuable learning and development opportunities are passed on to the people who need them the most, thus preventing your organization from falling behind the competition.


Curiosity is a state of being interested, ready to poke around and figure something out. It’s the urge to know more about something, like a diary in a coffee shop or a phone shaped like a duck.

It’s also the desire to explore and discover new things, such as going to a new restaurant or learning a new fact. It’s a natural way to build knowledge and can make you happier, more engaged, and a better person overall!

Scientists think curiosity may help promote learning in humans, especially young learners. It gets your brain firing on all cylinders, supercharging your ability to learn and improve your memory.

Communication Skills

Communication skills are essential for mentors to understand their mentee’s thoughts, feelings, and challenges. They also need to be able to discuss their own experiences and concerns appropriately to avoid misinterpretation or uncertainty.

Active listening is another vital skill for a mentor to develop. Listening to your mentee’s words and understanding their meaning helps build trust and respect.

Sometimes words and nonverbal cues don’t match, so paraphrasing is important to clarify the meaning of what your mentee is saying. This ensures you understand your mentee’s message and can offer helpful feedback.

Leadership Skills

One of the most important skills for a mentor is to be able to lead. They must be able to inspire their mentees, encourage them to progress in their careers, and guide them through any challenges they may encounter.

Leadership requires a high level of self-awareness and empathy for others. By facilitating this, a mentor can learn more about themselves and how they can help their mentees become a good leaders.

For example, they can increase their awareness of the types of feedback they give and its effectiveness. Often, early-career individuals need more feedback for a variety of reasons. They might need more direct contact with individuals who can provide feedback; there might be limited time for feedback, or other organizational objectives might take priority.