The research on the topic is quite clear: Humans do better when they have the support of other humans.

It is no different in the world of business, at home, at school, at church or out in the community. We become better leaders when we have mentors that invest in us and encourage us. But how do you pick a mentor, what should you look for?

A good mentor is someone that is passionate about sharing their experience and expertise with someone else. They get as much out of the exchange, if not more, because they value giving back, it fits with who they are as a person.

It feels like it should go without saying, but you should look for someone that has integrity and follows a moral code rather than someone that is considered good at their game but is despised and disrespected by peers and subordinates. They also must be willing to dedicate time to your development without the interruption.

Your mentor must be a good listener and a clear communicator and should help you be the best version of yourself possible rather than trying to shape you into their clone. That does not mean you can’t learn from their experience or leadership style, but they should really help you apply the learning to fit with your style.

Your mentor should be open to a diversity of ideas and different perspectives and should encourage the same in you. They should always seek knowledge and new learning and should be excited to learn from you as well.

Steer clear if they suggest their way is the best or only way of doing things. Your mentor should provide a safe space where you can talk about your growth edges, where it is not just OK but encouraged to fail and learn from failure.

You and your mentor should be on the same page about your goals and they should provide you with honest, clear and constructive feedback to help you achieve those goals, even if it may sting a little. That should not read as void of empathy but rather, striking a balance between being able to provide both empathy and honest feedback that allows for growth.

Your mentor should understand and counsel you on the art of building genuine relationships in life and should treat everyone with respect. They should be willing, not asked, to introduce you to their network and to vouch for you.

And finally, if you are at a place in your life where you may enjoy walking beside someone and serving as a mentor, please consider reaching, it will mean so much to both of you!