Module 4: Characteristics of a Mentor


  • List characteristics of successful mentors
  • Review testimony from others that define characteristics of quality mentors

Key Points:

Let’s take a look at the following characteristics of successful mentors:

  1. High level of attunement in their personal relationships
  2. Belief that they are capable of filling the mentor role (self-efficacy)
  3. Realistic expectations about the relationship, the experience, and the impact they can have on youth
  4. The ability to problem solve and seek out support from the program to overcome difficulties and avoid ending the match
  5. Having a youth-centered focus—the ability to relate to youth at their level
  6. An awareness of their own personal biases and cultural competency
  7. The ability to reflect their own motivations, actions, and contributions to the relationship

The research has demonstrated that youth in high quality relationships improve academic performance, reduce the likelihood of dropping out, decrease incidence of high risk behaviors—substance abuse, carrying a weapon, unsafe sex and violence, and supports young people in their development – academic, emotional and social.


___ Review the Resources
___ Complete Activities
___ Complete the Module 4 Questions


PDF – “Mentoring Works” by Jonathan Alter: This article provides a great summary of why mentoring is working with youth.
PDF – “Getting the Gold” by Annetta Miller: This article outlines how mentors must always consider the goals, need, and interests of the mentee (cadet) when engaging in the relationship.


Fill-in the last column to help identify some of the reasons you have decided to be a volunteer mentor with ChalleNGe.  Reflecting on and identifying your reasons now will help you maintain your focus throughout your time as a mentor.  Come back and review what you have listed when you need a reminder of why you choose to volunteer as a youth mentor.


Function Description Example Your own reasons for mentoring
Values Function The person is volunteering in order to express or act on important values, such as humanism and helping the less fortunate “I hear so much about the hard lives these kids have and feel I should do what I can to help.”
Understanding Function The volunteer is seeking to learn more about the world and/or exercise skills that are often unused “I know I’ve lived a sheltered life, so I want to know what these kids are dealing with.”
Enhancement Function The individual is seeking to grow and develop psychologically through involvement in volunteering “I get such a good feeling when I am helping others.”
Career Function The volunteer has the goal of gaining career-related experience through volunteering “I’m considering getting into education and want to see how I get along with children.”
Social Function Volunteering allows the person to strengthen one’s social relationships “Two of my good friends are mentors and say I’d be good at it.”
Protective Function The individual uses volunteering to reduce negative feelings, such as guilt, or to address personal issues “I want to give a child the role model I never had growing up.”