What do you look for in a leader or mentor?

We posed this question to those who are newer in their roles in various organizations across the country. These are some of the answers we received:

"I look for someone who is patient, likes to teach and coach not only new nurses, but seasoned ones as well. They must be able to take criticism from those they lead as a charge nurse. They must be able to adapt to all kinds of changes/interruptions and be flexible. As a charge nurse they must be able to present new initiatives or changes in a positive manner, even if they disagree with them (and never let the co-workers know they disagree)." -- Charge Nurse

"I look for someone who is trustworthy, patient, and knowledgeable in their field." --Educator

"As a new NPD Specialist, the thing I have struggled with most is structuring my role with the ANPD standards in mind as well as meeting the needs of the organization. It's definitely a balancing act. The transition would have been much easier if I had some clear direction and goals from a mentor." -- NPD Specialist

"As a newer educator, I am looking for guidance in my role as a mentor - i.e. making sure I am doing the job appropriately, aligning our competencies so we are prepared for TJC visits, and proper record keeping for all associates. In addition, I am looking for new and creative ways to do my job to keep up with the changing educational needs of the staff across all generations as it is a challenge to keep things new and exciting. I am always looking for educational opportunities, but looking for the mentor to help guide me towards those professional opportunities." -- Educator

"A mentor is someone who values people and me as a person; someone who listens AND has the wisdom to guide. I look for someone who leads with kindness and who is not afraid to feel/be attached while not crossing professional boundaries. And someone who is positive, who makes it safe to fail because you can grow from those experiences." -- Nurse Manager

"The biggest attribute is someone who wants to be a leader or mentor. Yes, they have to have the skills and knowledge base, but if they really don't like to teach or lead, they won't do a very good job. They need to be a good listener, approachable and non-judgmental, respectful and well-respected, and a person of integrity." -- Clinical Nurse Education Specialist

"For me, a mentor should be driven to advance the nursing profession and willing to treat others as they would like (not expect) to be treated. I would love to be mentored by someone who is nurturing, patient, experienced, knowledgeable, self-sacrificing, and professional." -- Nurse

"I have had staff nurses tell me a role model nurse has the following characteristics: confident in the practice, very knowledgeable and a resource, willing to pitch in and help when needed, expert in the topic they are teaching, never resorts to gossip, praises in public and offers constructive criticism in private." -- NPD Specialist

"To me a mentor is made up of a few characteristics, which are obviously tied together and similar, but each has a specific meaning or value to me. A mentor is someone who values my opinions, experiences, and goals and has the resources and knowledge to help me reach them. It is someone who has the ability to actively listen, but to interpret what I say in a new way and realize the potential of my ideas. It is someone who provides me with opportunities for success, but has the understanding to let me find my own way, even if it is different from the mentor's choice. Mostly, a mentor is a person with whom I can develop a trusting relationship, where I feel empowered and inspired to continue learning and growing in a professional manner, and know the mentor will always be there to encourage and guide me while keeping my best interests (personally and professionally) at heart." -- Critical Care Nurse Educator

As a leader and mentor, do you embody these characteristics? Are there elements you could improve upon? When assigning mentors to those who are new in their role, do you take these qualities into consideration? 

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader. -- John Quincy Adams

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