& cplSiteName &

3 Qualities of Leaders, Mentors & Mentees

Nita Patel

If given a list of characteristics, can you identify which qualities belong to a leader versus a mentor versus a mentee?

Focus, confidence, integrity, passion, authenticity, persistence, decisiveness, enthusiasm, positive, motivational, respect, curiosity, innovation, honesty, risk-taker, dedicated, engaged, committed, passionate and genuine. How'd you do?

It's not easy to separate these qualities because all of these are important in each of these three roles. There is a distinct overlap and individuals are leaders, mentors and mentees concurrently. In order to be successful, you need to fill all three roles, the person leading, the person advising and the person being advised.

There are three specific overlapping and critical elements that you must possess to successfully accomplish this feat: Communication, Emotional Intelligence and Mission.

First, communication is the imparting and exchanging of information. As we all know and have experienced, leaders, mentors and mentees all need to communicate clearly. We all know that the ability to explain ideas and concepts so that others understand is critically important but equally important is the ability to listen so that you understand others. Although speaking and listening are the two most basic relationship skills, they're both very difficult to master. A few key elements of communication are important.

To be an effective communicator, understand what and why you want to communicate. In doing so, clarify the goal of the communication by preparing and anticipating the receiver's viewpoint. Additionally, deliver the message with conviction, clarity and confirmation. That is, be sincere in your intent and message and how the essence of the communication relates to the larger goals and vision. Use simple sentences and clear examples to convey this message. Confirm understanding along the way by listening to the reactions both oral and physical.

Second, emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. I translate this as the ability to understand the uniqueness of each individual and having the emotional intelligence to understand yourself. Essentially, there are four competencies:

  • Understanding yourself, or self-awareness
  • Managing yourself, or self-management
  • Understanding others, or social awareness
  • Managing others, or social skills

Empathy is a central element to emotional intelligence and the hallmark of a strong leader and mentor. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy does not mean you agree with how someone is feeling or even relate to their feelings. Instead, empathy is about the awareness of other people's feelings and your feelings.

Possessing emotional intelligence allows you as the leader, mentor and mentee to understand others' perspectives, anticipate, recognize and meet others' needs, cultivate opportunities through diversity of thought and build trust enabling extra passion, motivation and success.

Finally, mission is knowing where you want to go and why. It's a combination of vision and action. In all three roles, it is important to know the concrete objectives and then use empathy and communication to convey this objective to others in a way that they can understand and act upon. As an individual in any of these three roles, you must define a purpose, the why. Your purpose may be to design the next car or provide support or gain access to an entirely new network. In defining this purpose, you are helping yourself and others define HOW to get there; that is, define a strategy to help us achieve the mission. The right strategy flows from knowing why we exist (purpose), what we believe (values) and where we are going (vision).

Each of us can be leaders, mentors and mentees by cultivating these three qualities, the ability to communicate our mission with an emotional awareness that allows us to embrace the diversity of ideas and personalities. Practicing these skills will definitely accelerate and amplify your individual contribution resulting in your being a world changer.

— Nita Patel, Founder & Chair, IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Nita Patel
Nita Patel,
User Rank: Blogger
1/23/2017 | 12:33:55 AM
Re: leading v. mentoring
Agree. They are not exactly the same. However, by incorporating teaching and learning each day in your role as leader, you can be both a mentor and mentee.
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
1/17/2017 | 4:21:21 PM
leading v. mentoring
Thank you for the post, Nita! Being a leader is not the same thing as being a mentor, although I like how you explain how to be both. I imagine leaders often don't feel they have time to make mentorship a priority though. How do you fit into your work day when you're also a leader (and a mentee, although that is easier!)?
Women in Comms Audio
Archived Audio
Twitter Feed
Women's Watercooler
Discussion Boards
December 22, 2017 3:58:57 PM
UN Women HeForShe
October 24, 2017 7:10:11 AM
Better Online Communication Makes Organization Sense
April 27, 2017 1:54:38 PM
Do you know women in tech?
Sarah Thomas
March 5, 2017 12:08:01 PM
Swedish Mansplaining
March 3, 2017 3:24:50 PM
Women's History Month
Sarah Thomas
February 24, 2017 12:15:59 PM
The career-break penalty
Sarah Thomas
February 17, 2017 10:25:33 AM
Risk taking differences
Sarah Thomas
February 17, 2017 9:51:21 AM
Upcoming WiC Events!
Sarah Thomas
Contribute Here
Women in Comms Poll
WiC wants to hear your stories, experiences and impressions of the comms industry.

Take our short survey here!
AppDynamics highlights the tech segments where women are the most prevalent and showcases a few making a big difference in their field.
Women in Comms Video
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Parallel Wireless Founder Reflects on Tech

6|13|18   |   6:52   |   (0) comments

Parallel Wireless is focused on making networks more flexible under the guidance of Co-Founder and VP of Development Kaitki Agarwal, who shares her thoughts on the industry's most game-changing technologies – past, present and future – as well as offering advice for other female founders with a great idea.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Sales Director: Be Your Own Champion

6|6|18   |   3:59   |   (0) comments

Heidi Westbrook, Fujitsu's director of ICP and North American Carrier Sales, shares the secrets to advancing in comms with a work/life balance in tact, including networking, self-advocacy, unapologetically pursuing the next step and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Treseder: Be Seen, Be Heard, Be Decisive

5|30|18   |   6:50   |   (0) comments

Lori Treseder, director of mechanical engineering at Infinera, discusses everything from improving power in the data center to empowering young women to pursue technical careers in the comms industry.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Metaswitch VP Talks IMS & Career Refreshes

5|23|18   |   5:12   |   (0) comments

Service providers are refreshing their IMS and looking for real cloud native IMS functions, according to Micaela Giuhat, Metaswitch's VP of product management, Cloud Native Core, who shares her thoughts on everything from container-based approach to VNFs to her experiences and advice as a leading woman in comms.
LRTV Documentaries
AT&T's BCE Keynote: 5G & SDN Worlds Colliding

5|17|18   |   18:07   |   (0) comments

At the Big Communications Event (BCE) 2018 event in Austin, Melissa Arnoldi, president of Technology and Operations at AT&T, spoke about AT&T's path to 5G and the important role software plays. 5G will eventually have a significant impact on how businesses work and how they engage with their customers.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2018

5|15|18   |   2:32   |   (0) comments

A recap of the 14th annual Leading Lights Awards in Austin, TX. Congratulations to all the winners!
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC Panel: Combatting Sexual Harassment in Denver

5|2|18   |   1:04:19   |   (1) comment

Executive Producer Janet Leahy, President of Arrow Solutions Kathy Boelter, CEO of Women of Wall Street Karen Ashworth Macfarlane and the Founder and CEO of Corporate Cowgirl Up Wendy Bohling join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas in Denver to discuss ways to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, help women advance and level the playing field.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Hollywood Producer Talks Cosby, Caution & Cable

4|25|18   |   5:16   |   (0) comments

Executive Producer Janet Leahy shares her story with WiC, offers advice for the cable industry to better support women and gives us a sneak preview of what she's working on next.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon on Drag & Drop Automation

4|23|18   |   03:40   |   (0) comments

DALLAS -- Automation Everywhere -- Srilakshmi Valisammagari, senior technologist & strategist - SDN/NFV Innovations for Verizon, addresses the operators' efforts to deliver automation to enterprise customers via Verizon Service Designer. Valisammagari says Verizon Service Designer simplifies the process flow -- from service design to implementation to provisioning ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Women of Wall Street CEO Offers Discrimination Solutions

4|18|18   |   6:15   |   (0) comments

Blind hiring, raising awareness, encouraging dialogue and ending binding arbitration agreements are a few ways the industry can thwart gender discrimination, says former Wall Street executive Karen MacFarlane, who saw first hand how pervasive it was in the financial industry.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Bohling: Have the Conversation to End Harassment

4|11|18   |   5:05   |   (0) comments

Gender consultant and author Wendy Bohling shares her thoughts on why we need to create an atmosphere of transparency, authenticity and accountability to make sure the #metoo movement doesn't ultimately backfire.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Why Telstra's COO Thinks Diversity of Thought Matters Most

4|4|18   |   6:09   |   (0) comments

Diversity of thought may be the most important in an industry that depends on innovation, according to Telstra COO and Tesla Board Member Robyn Denholm, who advises women to "just go for it" when it comes to building a career here.