The most important quality a mentor should have

May 4, 2015, 5:00 PM UTC
Courtesy of Ruder Finn, Inc.

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: Why is it important to have a mentor? is written by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

Mentors are invaluable to both our professional and personal lives. They inspire us to take chances, which is why trust is the most important quality that a mentor can have. Building trust is crucial—it creates a safe space to fail, discuss challenges, and provide critical feedback. Here are three ways all employees can benefit from having a mentor:

Challenge your opinions
No matter where you are in your career, it’s easy to fall into patterns. It’s human nature to repeat approaches to challenges that have been successful in the past and seek out experiences that feel familiar. But a good mentor will challenge you to do and see things differently. Success is defined by the ability to constantly evolve and tackle new challenges. Mentors help us recognize the mental and emotional barriers that are unknowingly holding us back.

Expand your thinking
Our perceptions are built on the fabric of our past–where we came from and what we have learned. Yet in order to grow, we need to expand our thinking and pursue opportunities that are uncomfortable. A mentor will help you find these unique experiences and incorporate them into your life.

Find your inspiration
Managers keep us on task, but mentors help us grow. Mentors help us set ambitious goals and motivate us to get there. They know our dreams and help us realize our full potential—they inspire us to achieve the unimaginable. They know exactly when tough love is needed. Mentors are the gut checkers, believers, and cheerleaders we all need to help find our way.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: Why is it important to have a mentor?

Why women are more likely to be mentors by Alyse Nelson, CEO and co-founder of Vital Voices Global Partnership.

3 reasons every employee needs a mentor by Sally Blount, Dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Why this AOL executive chooses her mentors — wisely by Allie Kline, CMO of AOL, Inc.

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