Who really needs a mentor

A mentor can be: someone who successfully develops someone else; a person who provides you with the tools, guidance, support, and feedback you need to thrive in your career; an experienced and trusted figure providing guidance and advice to someone with less experience; someone who can put themself in your shoes and support you with their existing knowledge and experience.

In June 2020, from a survey of young Africans, 90 percent revealed that they would like to have a mentor, whether for career, professional, social, political, personal or religious growth and development. 

What is mentoring vs coaching

To enrich how we define and understand mentoring, it is necessary to distinguish between what it is versus coaching which is a commonly perceived or interchanged term.

Paul Brewerton writes that mentoring tends to relate more to supporting others’ development by referring to your own experience, in a particular area or work of life.  Whereas, coaching relates to a collaborative relationship where the coachee and the coach work together on an issue to get some structure and process in place.  This helps investigate the issue and supports the coachee in resolving it.

Five types of mentors

On ideas Ted, there’s a short list of different kinds of mentors you may want to consider having:

  1. The master of craft
  2. The champion of your cause
  3. The co-pilot
  4. The anchor
  5. The reverse mentor

From the short list, let us pick just one that is, perhaps a hot topic for a brief mention.  Hopefully, this allows you to get additional information on the other types from the link above.  The second type of mentor on the list sounds more like a sponsor that will give you the boost you need when you’re not physically present in a place of discourse.  Your advocate, someone who would have your back and be a connector for your growth in industry.  The role of a sponsor is significant because recent conversations on the subject inform us of how critical they are in practice, for our career or professional growth and development. 

Five Benefits of Mentoring

Mentoring offers mutual benefits to both the mentee and mentor simultaneously.  For example, mentors can gain recognition for their skills and experience, in addition to a sense of fulfilment and personal growth.  For mentees, here are five benefits of mentoring drawn out from a longer list:

  1. Exposure to new ways of thinking
  2. Higher self-awareness and Increased confidence
  3. Personal network
  4. Promotions and Job satisfaction
  5. Lower levels of anxiety

It is useful to consider whether any of these benefits resonate with your current or future needs.  Because it would inform your approach to the subject of mentoring.

Some myth busters

  1. Successful high net-worth individuals like CEOs do not need mentors.
    A Harvard Business Review article argues that CEOs need mentors too.  In fact, some organisations are introducing a more inclusive approach known as reverse mentoring.  In reverse mentoring, a junior team member enters into a “professional friendship” with someone more senior, and they exchange skills, knowledge and understanding. 
  2. Your mentor must be older in age than you.
    The mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored but they must have a certain area of expertise. 
  3. You definitely need a mentor to be successful.  Georgene Huang states five reasons why mentoring can have a counter effect; no one individual holds the key to your success, connection made through mentors are secondhanded, mentorship can literally waste your time, you don’t need a person to teach you everything and no one is perfect.

Who needs a mentor

So, who needs a mentor?  There is a consensus amongst most writers that mentoring is necessary for speedy personal, career, professional or other desired growth and development.  Most articles stress the point that everyone does need a mentor to gain practical advice, encouragement and support.  Also, to help mentees identify their goals and establish a sense of direction.  

Most of the wealth of knowledge shared is derived from the experience of mentors.  This means there is an exchange of value, and this is not necessarily subjective but it would require that the goal of the short- or long-term relationship is adequately set out from the start.  Some argue that, the case for getting a mentor goes beyond: everyone needs just a mentor in their career, rather that it should be several mentors.  The idea being, you get a better deal with two or more mentors complementing each other in the value you take away from the relationships.  This approach goes further to mitigate the countereffect of having just one mentor, highlighted in myth #3.  

Sometimes our experiences affect our appetite to explore development opportunities.  Did you previously have a poor experience with a mentor?  Past, unfavourable experiences should not put you off.  All you may need to do is to locate a hub where mentoring can be easily accessed.  If you’re keen to add value, starting from Africa, either by serving as a mentor or you’re in search of a mentor, Glocal Networks is a community of professionals you can join for FREE.

D. Oladejo CEnv

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