Mentors Ask Questions
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Are you a good mentor?  Leaders at all levels of an organization need to be and have great mentors.  Leadership is a learned set of behaviors and we tend to learn quickest and best from the leaders around us.  This makes effective mentorship a critical task for every company today.

Being a good mentor is mostly about asking good questions and modeling good behavior.  If this is the case – and I believe it is – then anyone can be a good mentor to others.  And, we need mentors more than ever.  In our fast-paced world we must learn and change constantly.  We can only do this if we are asking ourselves and others clarifying questions and offering our insights into what the answers might be.  This kind of exchange is so valuable.

What are some of the questions we should engage others with?  One of the best questions to ask those we mentor is, “What does success look like to you?” This question helps the other person clarify what success is and prepares them to get specific.  Defining success is where we make our future the first time.  All outcomes are achieved twice – first in the mind and then in reality.

Another great mentoring approach is to ask questions around desired outcomes.  The question “What is the outcome you desire?” is a wonderful start to a meaningful dialogue.  When a person gets specific the mind automatically begins to work on how to get the series of tasks accomplished.  It’s the clarity that most of us need. As a mentor, help others focus on their specific outcomes.

Mentors are also key to our learning process.  Good mentors model being a continuous learner.  New ideas and approaches are critical to the skills related to creativity and innovation.  “What are you reading?” is a great question for a mentor to explore.  “What have you learned lately?” is another great question.  As mentors, we must help others see and experience the value of their ongoing growth.  I like to share new ideas that I am learning about with those around me. It is a two-way conversation that is both exciting and inspiring. There are so many ways to learn today – use all of them!

Other useful questions for mentors include: “What do you want to be different in three to five years?”, “What are the obstacles you face?”, and “What is in your control?”.

Leaders must be great mentors today.  They also must let everyone and anyone help them learn.  I have mentors of all ages and from all walks of life teaching me daily.  I work to be open to doing the same for those I meet and constantly interact with.  Having a good set of questions to use helps in this important effort.  What are the questions you use to be a mentor to others?  Are you using them as often as you can?  Being a mentor is critical to your success as a leader.  All you need is a question to begin the journey.

Looking for more? Download my Amazon Bestseller, Present-Future Leader:  How to Thrive in Today’s Economy.