Evolve your 'inner mentor' — a short reflective exercise to focus your development, and the ways you can better support others

In The Mentor Manual, a practical guide to becoming a a better mentor, coach and writer Julie Starr sets out this simple exercise. It blends some questions and reflections, and results in some areas for improvement and practical first steps towards them. It's especially helpful when you've a specific relationship in mind, and you can experience the exercise in five minutes by going with the flow below.

Evolve your 'inner mentor'

Bring to mind a mentor character. This might be someone you know who has formally or informally mentored you in the past. Perhaps someone where you work or have worked, or a classic mentor type from public life, film or popular culture. The exercise works best if it's someone you connect with, respect, or feel inspired by. Got someone? Once you have, write their name down and, if you're feeling creative, you could visualise them too.

Next, work through the steps below.

Consider the characterisitics

Write down the distinct characteristics and behaviours of your chosen mentor. What earns them the description of a good mentor? What do they actually do? What do you notice? Be as specific as you can.

Aim for a written list of up to 5 entries, with space to write alongside each, in the next step.


Consider each of the attributes you've written down, and give some thought to how much you express it within a current mentoring relationship, or any kind of relationship where you're managing or guiding someone else. How much are these characteristics and behaviours 'showing up'? How intentional are you, currently, in displaying them?


On a scale of 1—10, score yourself against each attribute and write that score down. Think of 1 as 'I hardly ever express this attribute', and 10 as 'I strongly express this attribute'.


Next, review your scores to decide where you feel you express the attributes clearly already. Bring to mind some specific examples if you can. And, importantly, identify one or two of the attributes that you feel you could improve on.


Finally, use the following reflection questions to focus in on an attribute you'd like to improve on, and to get clear on some simple next steps towards that.

• To express the attribute more clearly, what would you have to do more or less of?
• What's blocking you from doing this currently?
• If you did express this attribute more clearly, what would it mean for your relationships?
• And what else might improve or be different outside of the relationship?
• What are you going to do as a result of this exercise?

Mutually valuable mentoring

Our Next Gen Leaders mentoring programme connects professionals from across our partners' teams with diverse and curious emerging talent. Learn more about how you can participate here.

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