Identifying The Right Mentor For You




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A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could. – Zig Ziglar

Mentors are important as they are able to share their experiences and guide you through the phases of your career and the challenges that come with it. However, it can be difficult to identify who would be a suitable mentor for you.

First of all, if your mentor only tells you that you are fantastic, it’s time to find other mentors. Your mentor should puncture your ego every single time you’re wrong.

A mentor should be constantly throwing you in situations that help you realise the reality of things, but also motivate you at the same time. If they’re only nice to you, call them your best friend and not your mentor.

We meet leaders, peers, managers, gurus and heads everywhere, but not everyone is suitable to be your mentor – or rather, not everyone is ready to spend time listening to you.

Nevertheless, many people are genuinely interested in other people’s success; your success story starts when you find them and carefully nurture the relationship. Let’s take a look at the types of mentors and how to pick one.

1. ‘Best me’ mentors

This would be someone who is one or two levels higher than your grade, who can tell you when to stop and when to just pause; someone who has been in your situation and done what you do today. They help in getting new ideas, and you always take home something constructive from a conversation with them.

This mentor should be someone who can help in the betterment of today and someone you aspire to be tomorrow. You may consider this person the best version of you.

Remember, you become whom you spend time with.

2. ‘What’s next’ mentors

You will find these mentors if you’re clear about where you see yourself in two to three years. You feel a spark when you talk to them; you love listening to them and feel like noting down every single point they say in a conversation, and you can share your career plans and next actions with them.

I prefer having this type of mentor outside of the company I work in, so that they can bring in new perspectives and standards into my work and help me understand where I stand.

3. ‘Insight’ mentors

A thought leader is another type of mentor, someone who can give you direction and a 360-degree view. In general, these people are matured, experienced, genuinely interested in your success, and committed to your growth. They can give you advice about life and help you make the best career, as well as personal decisions.

People in this category are very busy, so these mentors need professional handling. I send calendar invites and set meetings only when there is an agenda worth the discussion.

Read: Why Is Mentoring So Crucial In Today’s Workplace?

Final thoughts

Few people get what they want because they don’t ask for it. When you went through the three categories above, I am sure three different people popped into your mind. Now, it’s time to shamelessly ask them to be your ‘board members’ – after all, what’s the worst that is going to happen?

However, do not forget that mentorship is all about ‘give and take’. We should never be super-selfish and only think about extracting and receiving good things from the mentor.

This relationship is never transactional, and consideration for your mentor’s growth is equally essential to help keep the mentoring relationship healthy. 

Have you ever had a mentor who changed your life? How did you meet them? Let us know in the comments below.


Padmini Janaki is a product manager. Passionate about causes for women, she is the chapter lead for Women In Product. Padmini has also founded an NGO for poor single mothers. Connect with her at


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