Mentoring relationships that deliver most value for both mentor and mentee are characterised by a number of behaviours:

  • Openness – both parties are able to speak openly and without fear of feeling embarrassed
  • Purposefulness – there is a clear sense of direction, although not necessarily very specific goals
  • Challenge – they are prepared to question the accuracy and logic of what each other says
  • Emotional engagement – they communicate on both rational and emotional levels; both are willing to share and explore emotional dimensions of issues raised
  • They respect each other’s time – in particular by ring-fencing mentoring sessions in their diaries
  • They view the mentoring relationship as much wider than the formal meetings – to include ad hoc interactions
  • They spend adequate time preparing before each mentoring session and in reflection afterwards
  • They have a “bias to action” – it’s not just a talking shop; the mentee commits to actions and follows through on them
  • They combine being serious with being enjoyable – the conversations are often both stimulating and fun, even though the topic itself may be serious.

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