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  • Catherine Hodgson

The Seven Strengths of Highly Effective Mentors

As a mentor, it’s more important to be present than to be perfect.


The acronym in my model called The Seven Strengths of Highly Effective Mentors, is P.R.E.S.E.N.T.

Present: Mentors invest the time and set an intention of being present in every session.

Relationship: Mentors put the relationship first and spend time building trust.

Encourages: Mentors encourage their mentee by supporting, guiding, role modelling, being a sounding board and showing empathy and compassion.

Shares: Mentors share their experience and wisdom with their mentee without telling them what to do.

Explores: Mentors listen deeply and are infinitely curious.

Non-judgmental: Mentors have an open mind-set and do not judge their mentee.

Two-way Feedback: Not only do mentors give compassionate feedback, they are also open to feedback and ask for feedback.


As a mentor, the most important strength you bring to your mentoring session is your presence. For me, if you are fully present, then everything else will fall into place.


But what does it mean to be present and how do you stay present throughout the session? To be present is to be aware of what is happening right now, this moment, not being in the past or in the future. The power of being fully present allows you to listen deeply without judgment. It creates the space for your mentee to have the conversation they really need to have and respond if and when necessary.


To stay present, the following guidelines may work for you. These are based on Tara Brach’s deep listening talk.


1.     Be intentional. Before you go into your session, set an intention for yourself to be fully present, to not be distracted and to listen mindfully. To put down all your expectations and controlling.


2.     Inner listening: Be aware of what’s going on for you – are you judging? Are you trying to fix them? Are you being triggered? Be kind to yourself and know that you will have thoughts while being present but try to stay open and then try to remove the incessant inner dialogue.  It’s not easy to put your own thoughts on hold and try to quieten your mind, but with practice it does get easier. 


3.     Anchor yourself. Set yourself an anchor for when your mind may wander and you may drift off into your own thoughts.  Maybe it is noticing your breathing, squeezing your hands or anchoring your feet on the floor. Whatever it is, set an anchor for yourself to come back to presence.


4.     Coach yourself along the way.  Have a coaching word or sentence that you can fall back on if your mind wanders. Say it inwardly to yourself when you feel distracted. It may be “What’s behind their words?”, “There’s time”, “What are they not saying?”,etc


It’s not always easy to be fully present, but with practice and intention it will become easier.  If you want to improve your presence with someone, set an intention for the next two weeks to be more present with that person…and then see what happens!



✓ Being P.R.E.S.E.N.T. is the most important strength you need to have as a mentor.

 ✓ Be your mentee’s guide and greatest supporter.

 ✓ Listen, be curious, ask questions, positively challenge, and give constructive and compassionate feedback.


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