Any person who has served as a mentor will tell you that he or she received as much as they gave in the relationship. The reasons for that are many, but one of the primary outcomes of mentoring for people is that mentors learn something special about themselves.
Being a mentor is a position of responsibility. The last thing a mentor wants to do is give bad advice or instill bad habits. Thus, before a mentor doles out advice or provides guidance, he or she engages in self-reflection. It’s a process that constitutes a dynamic resulting in mentors becoming clearer about their own knowledge base.
It is important to remember that a mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street. Many professional teachers, for example, say that the lessons they learn from students often turn out to be the most valuable benefit of being a teacher — and it’s what also makes the job so fulfilling.
Mentors often say that they don’t realize how far they have come professionally until they gain the opportunity to share their knowledge with someone else.
As a purely practical matter, mentoring can be an excellent long-term career strategy. That’s because the person mentored will often go on to other jobs with other companies or get promoted to higher levels within his or her current company. These mentees may be in a future position to bolster the career of the person who once mentored them.
Mentoring builds leadership skills. Helping others to formulate wise decisions and then take action are key elements of leadership. A mentor engages in both. Furthermore, taking responsibility for a mentee is excellent practice for taking leadership responsibility for an entire organization.
Another way mentorship benefits the provider is through improved communication skills. It’s a way to practice translating one’s internal knowledge for communication to another — and in a way that comes out clearly.
One of the best ways to gain self-clarity about a complex concept is to find a way to explain it to someone else. Mentors do that a lot.
Finally, mentoring builds your position within a supportive community. Being part of a community opens many doors for giving and receiving help and support. It nurtures social interaction and fosters that comfortable and grounded feeling that you belong.