There is no secret formula for mentoring someone, but one thing is certain: It requires spending a lot of time together. One of my favorite mentoring stories involves an owner-operated manufacturing business where the founder — an Ivy-League-schooled, impressive, enlightened individual — was preparing his son to run the business. One of the many examples of this owner’s insight was the fact that he had an open-office landscape for his team, himself included. Because of this setup, I often had the privilege of observing the father/founder meeting with his son — and I admit I would try to eavesdrop on their conversations. What I observed was the father asking a lot of questions, and then patiently listening to his son’s answers. I also saw mutual respect, and never detected any form of lecturing. I watched the interactions between a son who really wanted to learn, and a father who wanted his son to be successful. It was truly a wonderful picture, and a perfect example of good mentoring.
p.s. The father has since passed away, and the son is at least as impressive as his father. As a result, the company continues to prosper.