More than likely at some point in our lives we’ve experienced a great (and not so great) leader. Whether it was a manager at an organization you worked with, a teacher, or a professional mentor that helped guide you in making those big decisions or solving problems. When we analyze what made our favourite leaders notable, we can probably all agree that it had to do with how they coached and guided us through the highs and lows of our career path.

When guiding a young entrepreneur in the early stages of their business, it can be tempting to want to ‘tell’ or ‘direct’ them on what to do, especially when you have been down a similar road yourself and have a good idea about what the consequences of their actions and decisions will be. But the best mentors are the ones that can lead their mentees to making the right decisions, instead of telling them what to do.

Leading mentees successfully involves:


“Mentoring is a unique relationship. You’re not the person’s manager, you’re not the persons coach, you can’t tell them what to do, you just have to provide them with information, and share your own personal experiences and expertise, and help them come to a decision themselves. If I had to define Mentoring I would say it’s helping to empower someone to make their own decisions,” – Jarrod Pettipas, Futurpreneur Canada Mentor and Account Manager at TD Commercial Banking.

Empowering your mentee will help them build confidence in taking control of their circumstances to help achieve their goals in both their personal and working life. A mentor is meant to act as a guide to facilitate their mentee into making decisions on their own, and becoming more aware of themselves and their skillset to make these decisions. To help your mentee build confidence, check out this Crash Course we created.

Facilitating goal-setting and visioning

Sometimes all a mentee needs is for someone to help them dive deep into understanding their vision for their business and how to set appropriate goals to help them get to where they want to be. By helping entrepreneurs set their goals and objectives, and slowly increase their risk level, you’ll be supporting them in designing a strategy that fits their strengths and areas of growth.

Stimulating creative thinking and problem-solving

“They [a good mentor] are role models and have a knack for mirroring back what they’re hearing and observing. It’s all about supporting your mentees in learning, rather than trying to give them the ‘answers’. Good mentors teach you how to fish and forage.” – Devon Brooks, Advisor & Co-Founder of Blo Blow Dry Bar, Futurpreneur Canada Mentor & Board Member,

Put things on your mentees radar and help them identify and work through different scenarios that they could encounter, and may have not accounted for. This will help mentees not only explore different outcomes and pathways but also think creatively and problem solve. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day business processes. Mentors offer that invaluable third party objective prospective that is much needed in those early start-up days.

Connecting entrepreneurs to others that can support their achievements

“I also get a lot of personal satisfaction being able to make connections with others. I definitely don’t know everything and finding the people who can answer questions, provide better advice than me or just take entrepreneurs to the next level gives me a lot of satisfaction,” – Tom Cooper, Futurpreneur Canada Mentor, Associate Professor in Strategy at the Faculty of Business Administration at Memorial University, Consultant & Investor.

It’s impossible for a mentor to know everything, so encouraging entrepreneurs to seek other mentoring relationships, advisors and coaches for a diverse perspective can really help mentees grow their professional development skills and become a well-rounded entrepreneur.

The next time you sit down to meet with your mentee, ask yourself how you are supporting them in building confidence, setting goals, problem solving and networking.

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada, in conjunction with Kristle Calisto-Tavares, Mentor-in-Residence, Futurpreneur Canada

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