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Traits of My Most Successful Mentoring Clients

Traits of My Most Successful Mentoring Clients

I’ve been asked repeatedly what traits and behaviors are endemic to my most successful mentoring clients. I recently listed them for the Mentor Hall of Fame meeting in New York. Picture the categories below as continua, not “have it or don’t have it,” not a light switch but a rheostat. The farther to the right you are, the more likely you will be brilliantly successful.

In no particular order:

1. Constancy: The ability and perseverance to keep doing the right things even without immediate payoff. Instant gratification is hard to come by in this profession. You must do the right things continually to succeed.

2. RTTT: Running Through the Tape is reminiscent of my old sprinter days (I lettered as a freshman), since I was taught to run to a point about 10 yards past the finish, while others unconsciously eased up at the finish line. I won a lot of close races. Don’t get to the proposal phase and then take it easy.

3. Accept not Resist: Those people who actively look for reasons my advice and approaches won’t work with them are very unlikely to succeed with me, or in life in general. Find ways to make things work for you, not reasons why they won’t.

4. Business Sense: There is an inherent ability to recognize opportunity that some people lack. If you ask me what you should do when you’re introduced to a buyer who says, “Why don’t you call me and we’ll get together?” then you don’t have much innate business sense.

5. Support System: Ideally your loved ones, but also colleagues and professional associates can tell you when you have been good and not just lucky, and when you have been awful and not just unlucky. You need people to bolster your self-worth, not undermine it. I remember by wife saying, “The hell with the mortgage, just do your best.”

6. Self-Worth: The chronic problem many have with self-esteem and not feeling good enough, no matter how effective you may be for clients. You need to understand you’re a good and valuable person no matter what is happening at the moment.

7. Intellectual Firepower: You must be able to deductively and inductively reason, debate, and understand metaphor and analogy. You should be widely read and widely traveled. You should neither eschew new learning or old learning, sports or lobster, television or symphony.

8. Primary Skill Set: This should include language ability, math ability, the skills to place things in perspective, basic consulting/coaching/training/facilitating skills.

9. Secondary Skill Set: Here we have command of power language, public speaking, writing, influencing, negotiation, conflict resolution, and so on. I also include here strategic thinking, planning, and organizational abilities.

10. Creativity/Innovation: I regard innovation as “applied creativity.” That is, you must be able to make new ideas pragmatic for others, monetize your own good ideas, and constantly reinvent yourself and your brands, as well as provide such talents for your clients.

11. Existential Awareness: You must be sensitive to others around you, to the environment, and nature. You cannot be oblivious or self-absorbed. Not bothering to understand the world immediately around you is like stopping at the bottom of a moving escalator.

12. Deliberate Change Generation: The best people don’t wait to cope with change or even adapt to it, they create their own for rapid growth. Consequently, they are always leading the pack.

13. Self-Regard: In addition to self-esteem, you must treat yourself well, buy yourself things, provide rewards, be appropriately confident (just short of arrogant). Powerful people enjoy being with people who are powerful and aren’t embarrassed to demonstrate it.

Where would you put yourself on these avenues of growth and success? What are you doing to improve? Note that these are both skills and behaviors. You don’t develop these in isolation.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 6

  • Dan Weedin

    April 3, 2012

    Terrific article, Alan. Thanks for sharing. I will send this along to my mentor clients!


  • Mark Cioni

    April 3, 2012

    Agreed, and I’m adapting this to my own ongoing checklists. I know by my results that I’ve been moving the needle positively, and I also know that I can do much better in many areas. Thanks as always Alan.

  • Thomas J. Sowell

    April 4, 2012

    Alan you are spot on with all 13 behavioral and trait descriptions. I myself try to practice and favor numbers 1, 8, 10 and 12 in no particular order and on a daily basis.

    To greater success,

  • Paul Serino

    April 4, 2012

    Alan, I hope all is well. Great article, very helpful! Thanks for sharing.

  • Alan Weiss

    April 6, 2012

    Glad it was of help.

  • Kristin Nickells

    June 13, 2012

    I just had the opportunity to read this article (I am a newbie on this site). It is certainly one that I will be putting in my vault and referring back to again and again. As with other readers, it was affirmation for me that in many areas, my “needle is moving in the right direction”. My goal in life is to never get to the place where I know it all – but to get as close as I dare and am able., which provides my vehicle for continually moving forward. Thank you for your very valuable words and insight.

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