Mentoring lesson: Key mentoring skills

Laura Curran explains the qualities you need to become a great mentor

There are no formal qualifications for becoming a mentor. Anyone who has the experience, interest and motivation to help a colleague through a period of transition can become a mentor. There are, however, certain qualities that are essential:


  • Stretching discussions beyond the immediate problem or issue
  • Offering new or different perspectives and sharing experience
  • Varying your style from directing and telling to facilitating and supporting
  • Clarifying the mentee’s ideas through active listening, probing and discussion
  • Listening to frustrations and taking time to discuss these
  • Managing the relationship to create a climate of trust
  • Although (unlike coaching) suggestions and guidance are key to the mentoring process, it’s still vital to ask challenging, thought-provoking questions to help the mentee formulate his/her own solutions, rather than just telling him/her what to do

About the author

Laura Curran is an organisational development consultant. She works with local and central government as well as non-profit organisations to improve working practices. Laura is passionate about aligning strategy to organisational development, managing talent and developing leadership. She favours informal methods of learning over the more traditional ‘chalk and talk’. Laura is the winner of a Coaching Culture Award 2022 for building a coaching culture within a non-profit social care enterprise. She believes that everyone should have the opportunity to progress, and that the power of learning from each other is immeasurable. Mentoring, she says, can support people’s ability to develop and grow – now more than ever. She advocates that organisations embrace the process from new starter to CEO.