5 Types of Mentors: Discover Your Preferred Teaching Style

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Contributed by Rebeca Camacho

Rebeca Camacho is a content marketing writer, yoga teacher, and embodiment coach for young women.  When she isn’t spinning a story or teaching a class in sunny San Diego, she is working with female-identifying individuals to achieve their goals and develop true inner confidence. You can work with Rebeca by sending her an email to [email protected] or scheduling an appointment.

It is often said that our actions early on in our career will greatly influence the overall trajectory of how we reach professional success. The reality is that, in actuality we don’t always know what we want, much less what steps we need to take. We’ve all been there, and for this very reason can understand the undeniable value a mentor can have in someone else’s life. 

As someone with more time and experience in your field, now might be the best time for you to begin exploring ways you can unlock someone else’s potential by stepping into the role of a mentor. While many people may take years and years to figure things out for themselves, the truth is that working with a mentor to guide them through the process can really expedite the developmental process for the mentee. 

In this post, we go over what it means to be a career-changing mentor, and what are the 5 types of mentoring styles. Together, we break down the characteristics that will help you understand what kind of mentor you are, so that you can best serve the needs and growth of your mentee.

Table of Contents

What it Means to be a Career-Changing Mentor

  • Deliver Constructive Criticism with Empathy
  • Help Your Mentee Upskill
  • Focus on the Big Picture
  • Outline Clear Goals and Expectations
  • Ask for Feedback

5 Types of Mentors

  • The Cheerleader
  • The Search Engine
  • The Companion
  • The Advocate
  • The Master

What It Means to Be a Career-Changing Mentor

More than just a title, being a mentor comes with an important responsibility of jumpstarting not only the success of your mentee, but also your very own in your area of expertise. We often hear about the various benefits of working with a mentor, but what we don’t always know is that the mentor also has a lot to gain. From job promotions, to salary bumps, and just overall more fulfillment, there are a number of noteworthy benefits you gain access to when working as a mentor. 

No matter where you are in your career, having someone to hold you accountable can be the difference between failure and success. So even though your mentee may be working with you because they are there to learn from you, having them there to look up to you can equally help to support your growth in your current career

Anyone can say that they want to be a mentor, but when it comes to truly upleveling your mentee’s career, it’s important to understand what are the key principles to keep in mind. 

Deliver Constructive Criticism with Empathy 

There will be moments when you need to provide feedback to your mentee on their work or performance. While this may be challenging at times, delivering this feedback is absolutely essential for their critical awareness and overall growth. Understanding how to balance clear and concise feedback between positive reinforcement and constructive criticism will allow your mentee to receive the information they need.

Help Your Mentee Upskill 

As a mentor, it’s your responsibility to make sure your mentees are progressing. Whether that is  for them to deepen their knowledge in one field of study or to try on a full career shift, it means that they are moving forward with their dedication and aspirations. To help them upskill means that giving them the opportunity to prove to themselves that they are capable of making decisions and acting on them. 

This is not just about keeping mentees on their toes, it is about the renewal of an unsatiated thirst for knowledge and a commitment to the process of self-discovery within themselves. 

Focus on the Big Picture 

It can be difficult for someone to keep their eyes on the prize, especially when there is so much going on and so many moving parts to any vision coming true. As the mentor, it is your job to make sure the end goal, that light at the end of the tunnel, is always strong for them. 

Of course there is a balance that must be constantly modulated. The balance between focusing on taking each step after the other, while also reminding your mentee of why it is that they decided to take action in the first place. This is something that we cannot quite do fully alone, and sometimes having a mentor to go through this with you can be the difference between overcoming hard challenges and lifelong regret.  

Outline Clear Goals and Expectations 

Setting clear goals and expectations is the first step to any successful achievement. So creating clear objectives and outlining what is the result that you want to achieve, is ultimately what will keep you and your mentee motivated to persevere. 

Ask for Feedback 

Never hesitate to ask for feedback on how you can improve in your role. Not only does this set the tone for how your mentee acts towards you, but towards everyone around them. In the same way that we can’t always know or be able to deduct exactly what our mentees go through, so do they also need opportunities for you to share about the ways you can better suit their needs. 

In other words, asking for feedback is a way to show that you are also committed to constructive  and transparent communication. Being conscious of what you can do to improve in your role as a mentor will give your mentee the opportunity to also see that you are only human. The benefit to this is their increased ability to mirror this within themselves and command over the ability to learn from their mistakes.

5 Types of Mentors

The Cheerleader

When it comes to types of mentors, if you are big on motivation and being the hype-(wo)man for your mentee, then you might be the cheerleader. This mentor is the kind that loves to inspire, and give advice surrounding positive encouragement and taking a more solution-oriented approach.  

Not to be confused with someone who is unrealistically optimistic, this role takes on the energy of finding motivation when things might get tough, showing that we can always find new ways to bounce back from setbacks.

The Search Engine

In the face of an unknown answer, are you handy at finding out what are the right resources to turn to? Do you enjoy understanding the process of retrieving or learning new information? Then you might be the search engine type. This is the mentor that teaches you through embarking on the search discovery with you. 

The focus of this type of mentor is teaching their mentees how to invest in their own analytical capabilities and be more resourceful for themselves. When we teach our mentees how to become more self-sufficient, we are also teaching them tools for independent learning. Being able to guide your students through greater questions and answers, not only helps them with greater access to information, but also how to find it on their own. 

The Companion

This is more of a peer-mentor. The companion is someone who is perhaps relatively close in age to their mentee. It is someone who has been in their line of work for anywhere from a few months to a few years.

This role can be really powerful in eliciting relationships that are also strong role models. The closer you are in age, and the more commonalities you share, the better it can be for your mentee to see themselves in your shoes someday. So this type is all about not neglecting what mentees can gain from someone who went through a similar experience as them, not too long before. 

The Advocate 

Do you consider yourself well-connected? Don’t know the answer, but enjoy reaching out to those within your network to see if they can help you work things out? Then you might just be the advocate. This classification is for the mentor who likes to talk to their community and is interested in growing their mentee’s community also. 

Not only does this allow for you to explore your connections for the benefit of your mentee, but it also introduces your mentee to a host of people that may be of equal or greater value to them on their journey to professional development.

The Master

Are you an expert in your field? Feel like you’ve seen it all, and have a lot of experience of what it takes to thrive in your industry? Then you may just be the master archetype. This is the person who loves to teach, and has been around for long enough to learn the ropes of their profession. 

This is your chance to instill as much knowledge and wisdom as you can into your mentee’s ability to learn the right tools and techniques of the game. 

Conclusion

When it comes to becoming a mentor, the benefits run on a two-way street between the mentor and mentee. Not only are you increasing their chances of growing in their professional development, you are also raising your possibilities for this too. 

Sometimes working as a mentor can be the differentiating factor to bring about greater fulfillment in your life. Another benefit is in your salary increase. Studies have shown that working as a mentor can bump up your salary by 20% on average. 

For more info on how to be really honed in on your style as a mentor, check out this infographic from Mint below!

How to Be a Career-Changing Mentor

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