Project Management

10 Ways to Be a Great Mentor

Carleton is an Associate Director Portfolio Management in Queensland, Australia.

In the 1984 movie Karate Kid, a young Daniel asks the wise master Mr. Miyagi to teach him karate. Miyagi hands him a cloth and points to his car, telling his young apprentice to “Wax on, wax off.”

Daniel bridles under the imposition of having to clean the master’s car, unaware that the repetitive motion is teaching him the forearm block. It may appear to be an inefficient way of teaching a simple skill, but what Miyagi is actually doing is building his apprentice’s muscle memory so that the action can later be performed without thinking. This is what being a great mentor is all about. Teaching imparts knowledge, but it doesn’t always provide the confidence that comes from experience. As a mentor, your goal is to make your mentee a better project manager through guided experience.

Is mentoring for you?

  1. Do you have broad experience of the subject?
  2. Are you willing to spend time sharing your knowledge?
  3. Are you patient enough to put up with people who have not reached your level?
  4. Are you comfortable giving more than you will get back?
  5. Do you have the empathy to be a wise friend rather than a superior?

A while ago, I had to work with a project manager who reported to a separate department. This project manager—while clearly enthusiastic about their assigned project—…


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"I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him."

- Galileo Galilei

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