A good mentor is humble, full stop

A good mentor is humble, full stop

07 June 2021
Gerrit Sarens
Gerrit Sarens
  • Recently, I wrote that the power of mentoring comes from the intrinsic motivation of our mentors to help people.

    Another element in the mentor mindset that is very important to make mentoring work is humbleness.

    That is why we have included this in our 5 Ambits Values. In the selection process, we assess this extensively. This is the point where most candidate-mentors fail.

  • Humility is not being a ‘doormat’ and allowing people to walk all over you. Instead, it is an understanding that every human is equally valuable: a recognition that you are worth no more or less than anyone else.

  • What is a humble mentor?

    • He remains modest about his achievements.
    • She does not position herself as more than the mentee.
    • He walks along with the mentee.
    • She does not pretend to know it all despite her track record.
    • He can admit his mistakes.
    • She knows she is not perfect.
    • He is aware of his shortcomings.
    • She is not arrogant.
    • He is not driven by ego.
    • She is courteously respectful toward her mentee.
  • Humility is reflected in the following mentor behavior

    • First listening, then talking
    • Active listening; being fully present during a mentoring session
    • Not bragging
    • Not preaching
    • Seeking feedback from the mentee
    • Asking for help himself if needed (e.g., from another Ambits Mentor)
    • Acknowledging the mentees’ strengths
    • Complementing the mentees’ progress
    • Not taking all the credit for the mentees’ progress
    • Investing in learning & development

    Humbleness is translated in our golden rule within the Ambits community that every mentor gets the same fee for a mentoring assignment.

Struggles of a manager

Managers are

  • not or inadequately trained in this role


    • lack self-confidence
    • don’t know how to go from being a colleague to being a boss
    • need to loosen up on the command & control leadership style
    • must let go of the (technical) expert status
    • cannot give or accept constructive feedback
    • feel pressure to perform as manager
    • have difficulty building relationships
    • want to be liked by everyone or want to be the ‘bad boss’
    • play the hero
  • are struggling


    • stay too involved in operations
    • have trouble prioritizing
    • cannot delegate
    • fear conflict situations
    • disconnect from the team
    • deal with flawed strategic thinking
    • do not relate to higher management
    • lack clear communication skills
    • remain not self-aware
    • avoid difficult conversations
    • miss political antennas
    • ...
  • capable of more


    • need mental preparation as successor
    • need to be able to lead big changes ahead
    • need to learn to be emotionally resilient and in control
    • need to learn to make big decisions fast without all the information
    • must become persuasive presenters
    • need to learn how to cultivate their own personal brand
    • need to learn how to lead by example
    • manage by trust, not by fear
    • need to overly develop empathy
    • ...
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