The Best Mentorships Help Both People Grow

by David Nour January 05, 2022 HBR

  • Summary. A transformational mentorship is a relationship that offers something powerful to both the mentee and the mentor. As a mentee, the trick to fully engaging your mentor lies in finding the right person: someone with whom you can build a relaxed, inspiring camaraderie, driven by curiosity as opposed to the binary instructor-student exchange we normally teach. How do you find this person? Try following these steps:

• Look beyond the obvious places. It can be challenging to avoid the traditional teacher-student approach to mentorship when your mentor is a leader within your own organization. Instead, try looking for potential mentors in ecosystems tangential to your work and your interests.

• Ask to meet before you ask for mentoring. While someone may seem perfect on paper, they could easily end up being a bad fit once you engage directly. You need to make sure there is a genuine connection, so start small with (virtual) coffee or lunch.

• Test the waters. Your ideal mentor should be someone who resists providing you with quick answers, and prefers engaging you in conversation through which you can both learn and grow.


• Don’t limit yourself. Just as you can teach and influence your mentor as the mentee, you can mentor others. By teaching someone else, you will also learn to clearly express and communicate your ideas, which is essential to your professional growth.