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I am called on to respond to questions regarding leadership and mentoring on the Quora website. I wanted to share those questions and responses with you on a regular basis. Here is the third installment:

Q: How do you provide effective mentorship?

A: Good question. For me it is all about building a trusting relationship with the person I am spending time with in a mentoring relationship. Effective mentoring is about a two way trusted relationship where the mentor and mentee will both learn and grow personally and professionally. It is a relationship based on trust and respect for what each brings to that relationship. It is about understanding what the needs are of the person you are mentoring and ensuring that you are bringing value to the relationship. It is about knowing the questions to ask to stimulate critical thinking. It is also about not telling or giving answers to problems but guiding the mentee to the answers.

I obviously could go on for a while longer but there is so much more to mentoring than what most people understand. It truly is a gift and effective mentoring is a life changing experience.

Q: With this new trend of “online gurus/mentors”, what are some clear signs that what is being offered is a fraud?

A: I would be asking some questions about the mentor’s credentials and would also be asking for some references. I am not sure what a person would gain by offering mentoring services and doing so fraudulently unless of course they were offering service for a fee.

There are people who claim to be good mentors when they are in fact not but I would not label them as fraudulent. I would also be asking them what their process is for mentoring and that would be somewhat of an indicator as to what their intentions are.

I don’t see that there would be anything to gain by being fraudulent in offering mentoring services unless you were doing so for money. This question supports the research on how important it is to have trained mentors who must follow a code of ethics and professional practice.

Q: What is it like being a mentor?

A: For me it has been a life changing experience as I have grown just as much as the people I spend time with in a mentoring relationship. Seeing the growth in someone else is the most rewarding experience that you could ask for. Whether I am a mentor, a great mentor, or an extraordinary mentor what I put into the relationship I will certainly get back and then some. I have found that I am a better communicator as a result of being a mentor. I am better at building and maintaining relationships as a result of being a mentor. I value trusted relationships a lot more than I ever did before. An extraordinary mentor is one that will ask you questions to guide you to the answers. They won’t be telling you what the answers are as they want to watch your critical thinking skills grow. All of these things are what my deeper, richer mentoring experience has brought me. You need to embrace the “gift of mentoring!”

Q: Did you have a mentor? What did he teach you? Did it work? Are you or will you be a mentor as well? Why?

A: I have had mentors and continue to have mentors as part of my journey today. In actual fact I have a number of mentors each providing me with something that the others may not. I would not be where I am today without my mentors as they provide guidance but also challenge me to think – critical thinking skills. Having started my own business back in 2009 that is focused on mentoring and the training and certification of mentors has helped me understand the value that mentoring can and does bring to my personal and professional world.

One of my mentees is now mentoring others as a result of our time together. I also have one other mentee who is about to embark on a mentoring experience as well. I am still a mentor to a number of people virtually and face to face. Mentoring is a way for me to give back and to help people and organizations be the best that they can be.

Q: What value do mentors add to mentees?

A: My first question is what do you as a mentee hope to gain from a mentoring relationship. Mentoring is a two way trusted relationship where both the mentor and mentee will learn and grow personally and professionally. We sometimes forget about the aspect of personal growth. It cannot be overlooked. What value do I bring? I am part of what can be a life changing experience. When I leverage the training that I have been provided as a mentor guiding someone through their transformation on a personal and professional basis it truly is a life changing experience. When I look at the research that has been done on the value of mentoring it is quite clear that mentoring is viewed as bringing business value to organizations but also to each and every employee in that organization. Is it worth the journey? Can you afford not to have a mentor and experience a life changing experience?