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Mentoring – Passing on the Benefit of Your Experience

Mentoring - Passing on the Benefit of Your Experience

Mentoring - Passing on the Benefit of Your ExperienceThese days, mentoring is defined – more often than not – in distinction to coaching.

That’s easy to do, but if I were to do so, it would pre-suppose that you know what coaching is. And you may do. But, what if you don’t?

I have set myself the task of describing mentoring without mentioning coaching again in this article.

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The Awesome Power of Mentoring

Mentoring is everywhere!

Mentoring helps people to:

  • Develop knowledge and solve problems
  • Develop leadership
  • Be creative and innovative
  • Make better decisions
  • Develop confidence, commitment, motivation and morale

Mentoring in History

The first mentor was the Athena, goddess of wisdom, in Ancient Greece.

Athena took the form of Mentor, the trusted friend and adviser to Odysseus, King of Ithaca. When Odysseus left for war with the Trojans, Mentor helped his son, Telemachus to learn how to become a king.

Image of Athena by hslo

Fénélon (1651-1715), Archbishop and later tutor to Louis XIV’s son, wrote Les Aventures de Télémaque. This took the mentoring theme of Homer’s Odyssey and turned it into a case study of leadership development. Fénélon said that leadership could be developed but Louis XIV didn’t like that very much and banished him to Cambrai and cancelled his pension. Typical behaviour of elitist egotists!

Louis Antonine de Caraccioli (1723-1803) wrote Veritable le Mentor ou l’education de la noblesse. He says that his influence was Fénélon. Caraccioli invites mentors to work with the mind as well as the heart of mentees.

Honoria wrote two books called The Female Mentor 1793 with a third volume in 1796. The mentor, Amanda, knew about Fénélon and his approach to education and life.

And nowadays?

Nowadays, mentoring is talked about as a learning relationship between two people. It needs active commitment and engagement to be effective. Mentoring also involves skills including listening, questioning, challenge and support. All relationships have a time scale and mentoring maybe life long relationship or just a few months.

Why is mentoring awesome?

Mentoring is a powerful approach to learning and development because, nine times out of ten, it works! People learn and develop, make changes to their lives and feel good about it. Mentoring links to loads of theories on learning and it is mainly based on the idea that it’s good to talk with a purpose!

What makes it work?

Top ten tips for mentors

  1. Keep in touch
  2. Always be honest
  3. Don’t judge listen instead, you might learn something!
  4. Don’t give advice – no-one takes advice unless they want to!
  5. Don’t expect to have all the answers
  6. Help your mentee get resources and further support
  7. Be clear about expectations and boundaries
  8. Stand back from the issues your mentee raises but work together on them.
  9. Respect confidentiality
  10. If the relationship falters – hang on in there!

Top ten tips for mentees

  1. Accept challenge willingly.
  2. Share with your mentor how you feel about the way the relationship is working
  3. Be positive about yourself
  4. Do something!
  5. Trust in your mentor
  6. Talk openly
  7. Take a few risks
  8. Think about other ways to develop yourself outside of your mentoring relationship
  9. Don’t expect too much of your mentor.
  10. Talk about the end of your relationship when the time comes.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The author of this guest blog, Bob Garvey, is co-author of the Mentoring Pocketbook, which has recently been re-issued in its third edition.  Check-out the fantastic new cover!

The Mentoring Pocketbook

You might also like:

And, from our sister series, the Teachers’ Pocketbooks:

They have blog too, by the way, at:

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