While I have had mentors throughout my life – colleagues, boss, friends, parents and my own brother – none of them were formal or structured mentoring. I was nominated for a Global Women leadership Mentoring program in 2012 which was my first experience of a Structured Mentoring Program. The program was sponsored by Fortune & US State department and we had women from different regions of the world being mentored by Fortune 500 Global Women leaders for a month.

“This experience made me realize how structured mentoring can lead to leadership.”

While formal mentoring has its own advantages but it can also be ineffective at times. I personally had both – great and not so great experiences with my mentors. But as someone who has been both a mentor and a mentee, I want to share a few tips for mentors to guide their mentees in a more meaningful way.

At the very minimum, relationship skills required for mentoring include, showing kindness, practicing patience and flexibility, and conveying a sense of appreciation for the individual’s accomplishments. Following are some additional suggestions for mentors:


  • Respect your mentee’s time as much as your own.
  • Be explicit about the ‘norms’ for your meetings and your own needs and limits (e.g., time, style of interfacing, etc.).
  • Always ask if you can make a suggestion or offer feedback.
  • Tell your mentee that she is not expected to follow all of your suggestions.
  • Expect your mentee to move toward his/her goals; not yours.
  • Express appreciation for any help your mentee gives you.
  • Recognize and work through conflicts in a respectful way; invite discussions of differences.
  • Keep the door open for your mentee to contact you in the future—if that is your wish.


  • Assume that your schedule always has priority.
  • Commit unless you have the time .
  • Make your mentee guess about the ground rules for your meetings.
  • Automatically give advice or criticism.
  • Assume your advice will be followed.
  • Expect a clone of yourself.
  • Take your mentee for granted or assume the she/he doesn’t need positive reinforcement.
  • End the relationship on a sour note.

A mentoring program done right can be very effective. It offers many benefits to an organization as it develops a growing, seasoned workforce, increases productivity, improves strategic planning and provides better succession planning and cost-effective training.

To know more about Biz Divas Mentoring Leadership program or to apply, please click here.