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The making of a GOOD MENTOR?

Updated on April 14, 2012

This article is in response to the following question asked by giopski.

What makes a GOOD MENTOR?

"They say that a "mentor" is different from a "supervisor" and I totally agree with that. I have come across good mentors but not necessarily good supervisors. There seem to be a thin line between the two. What criteria could we make in order to point out the difference or reconcile them altogether?"

The role of a mentor is very much different from that of a supervisor. Here are some of the basic criteria that distinguish each from the other.

  • A mentor is more of a teacher and counselor than a manager or superior.
  • A mentor tends to coach, guide, and assist; while a supervisor tends to direct, command, and instruct.
  • A supervisor monitors and regulates employees; critiquing and evaluating their performance on a regular basis.
  • A mentor develops and strengthens employees by equipping them with the necessary tools and resources for optimal performance.

So now let’s look at what makes one a GOOD mentor?

  • A good mentor is someone who makes allowances for the faults of those assigned to him/her (not in the sense of tolerating slothfulness; but in the sense of training and modeling expected outcomes).
  • A good mentor demonstrates tenderness and compassion for others and will not knowingly do anything to oppress those whom he/she has been given charge over. A good mentor doesn't mind rolling up his/her sleeves and going to work alongside the rest if and when necessary.
  • A good mentor would never abuse his/her authority or power over others just because they can; expecting others to do all of the work while he/she receives all of the credit, accolades, and recognition.
  • A good mentor edifies others and encourages camaraderie between all as much as possible to promote healthy morale and positive work environments.

In communities throughout the world, there is a great need for good mentors. Could it be that mentors are born to mentor and are simply operating in their purpose? Is that the quality that makes them good mentors and puts them in demand?

Supervisors are trained to manage others. For some this is easier than for others; because some supervisors are just natural leaders. They were born and purposed to lead others. Supervisors have many demands placed on them in terms of goals, productivity, effective management, results, etc. Most find it nearly impossible to function as a mentor while keeping up with the demands. Some supervisors may even fear that if they are not hard-nosed, their employees will abuse their kindness and disrespect them, their role, and authority. I believe that if more supervisors were given the autonomy or chose to function as good mentors; more work places would become happy, productive places to spend the largest part of each waking day.


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    • YvetteParker profile image

      YvetteParker 6 years ago from AUGUSTA, GA

      Ms. Dora, I'm so glad you to have you visit my site anytime!! I'm right there with you...kudos to good mentors and effective supervisors everywhere!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the very clear comparisons and differences between the mentor and the supervisor. They're both so necessary and cheers to those who are effective at being one or the other.

    • YvetteParker profile image

      YvetteParker 6 years ago from AUGUSTA, GA

      Excellent points, Sid, thank you! Thanks again, giopski for the inspiration and the encouragement!

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 6 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      I like your ideas here. As a professional coach, and a mentor of many, I would add two points. Supervisors are responsible for productivity, and so must address problems. Mentors are free to focus on improvement, and be gentler about problems. Yet mentors should also teach their mentees how to see problems, how to solve problems, and, most of all, how to prevent problems.

    • giopski profile image

      giopski 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      Hi there Yvette, I am very thrilled to have inspired you to write a hub on the subject matter. Your thoughts here are pretty straightforward and inspiring. I particularly like the part when you said that a good mentor edifies and encourages camaraderie. It's a failure for a mentor not to have this as he/she should help in the growth of his/her mentee. Keep writing Yvette! TC