Friday, October 15, 2010

20 Ways to be a Great Mentor

Generally I think that informal mentoring programs are better than formal ones.  However, I must admit that an exception to the rule is the ITSMF Executive Protege Program (EPP).  The mission of the EPP is to fill the next generation of African American executives.  EPP provides the mentoring and networking that mid-level IT managers need to advance their IT careers to the senior and C-level.  It is the only national mentoring program focused on cultivating executive talent among African American IT professionals.

I can vouch that one of the most important elements of personal and professional success is the influence of a sincere and caring mentor.  Mentoring not only helps build and support a foundation of success for the protege, it also provides a great opportunity for you to build your leadership skills and management.

A great deal of the success of the ITSMF EPP can be found in the fact that ITSMF mentors are primarily Black CIOs.   After all, to be an effective mentor, the protege has to have a true appreciation of the mentor and what she has achieved in life and in their career.

Mentors must establish an open and honest relationship where both have the freedom to be themselves.  With that freedom comes the ability to talk openly and share information that will help build the relationship into a positive and progressive one that can last a lifetime.

Here are 20 ways to be a great mentor:
  1. Ask your protege to share specific items they can share with you to expand your horizons.
  2. Be forgiving of your protegee, allow them to make mistakes.
  3. Be sure to listen aggressively and encourage them to speak as freely as possible.
  4. Challenge your protege to build in weak skills; provide rewards accordingly.
  5. Demand that your protege operates at the highest personal and professional levels possible.
  6. Don't try to provide answers, but rather effectively lead them to the right choices.
  7. Have fun with your protege -- keep it light.
  8. Help them identify clear goals and objectives for the year.
  9. Help your protege see their growth and progress through your eyes.
  10. Insist your protege read great stuff; share books and magazine articles to discuss and teach from.
  11. Learn and share birthdays, holidays and special occassions in the year.
  12.  Learn your protege's likes and dislikes to understand their fears and dreams.
  13. Never allow them to make excuses or steer away from that which is ethical and moral.
  14. Organize outings with them at least once per quarter.
  15. Provide exposure to someone or something new and relevant.
  16. Share 'life lessons', even the foolish ones you now regret.
  17. Share your history of setbacks.
  18. Speak favorably about your protege.  Expose them to others who are positive and progressive.
  19. Spend at least an hour per month with your protege.
  20. Take the time to learn their family background.
Anyhow, I encourage any BETF-Blog reader interested in attaining Senior or Executive level leadership positions in information technology to check out the ITSMF EPP.  For more information about the ITSMF Executive Protege Program, contact the EPP coordinator by email ( or phone (800.727-2372).

What is your personal experience with the mentoring process?

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