As mentors, it can be tempting to provide answers to our mentees when they are struggling with a problem. However, this approach may not always be the best way to drive insight and change in our mentees. Providing answers without deeply listening reduces the opportunity for an empathetic connection to be created with the mentee, and the solutions we suggest may not necessarily be owned by the mentee.

Asking questions is a more effective way to generate insight in mentees.

When we ask a powerful question, the mentee has to stop and focus on the topic, creating a picture of the situation by firing up neurons in the brain related to the topic. Some of the brain’s more automatic thinking is suspended as it addresses the question. The more we question and challenge the mentee to reflect on the situation, the more it helps their brain to fire up different neurons. This provides the potential for a different perspective or new solutions to be ideated.

When we ask thought-provoking questions, we challenge our mentees to reflect deeply on their situation, helping them uncover insights and identify the best path forward. Here are some example questions that can help spark insight in your mentee’s brain:

  • What are your thoughts on the situation?
  • Can you walk me through how you’ve approached similar problems in the past?
  • What is the root cause of the issue?
  • What would happen if you did nothing?
  • What might be an alternative way of thinking about the situation?
  • What could you do differently to get a better outcome?
  • What would happen if you took this approach?
  • What other resources or support might you need to help you achieve your goal?


Remember that the goal is to help your mentee arrive at their own unique solution, rather than simply telling them what to do.

The more you can ask open-ended questions that encourage reflection and exploration, the more your mentee will feel empowered to take ownership of their development and growth.

In short, asking a question allows the opportunity for insight to be created in the brain for the mentee. The better the question, the greater the opportunity for the mentee to engage new neurons to create a unique solution pathway or insight for them. This solution is an idea or picture in their own brain that is owned by them and as a result has greater meaning and is more likely to be acted upon.


At MentorKey, we believe that sparking insights rather than delivering solutions is the key to effective mentoring.

We’ve created a platform that helps mentors ask powerful questions on a variety of topics. Our Keys provide an approach and a diversity of questions for you to choose and use in your next mentoring session. In each Key, you will find a choice of powerful questions to prepare and spark insight in your mentee’s brain. By leveraging the power of MentorKey, you can help your mentees develop their critical thinking skills, gain new insights, and achieve their goals.

So, the next time your mentee comes to you with a problem, resist the urge to provide an immediate solution. Instead, ask powerful questions that encourage reflection and exploration, and watch as your mentee discovers the solution that’s right for them.