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What kind of mentor would you like to be?

headshot2013Being a mentor is an attractive career move for many senior people so it’s worth exploring what kind of mentor you want to be.

A mentee may, during the lifetime of the mentoring relationship, look for the mentor to play a number of roles. If you are a mentor for more than one person, you will probably find that each of your mentees may well want a different type of mentor depending on their situation. To be an active mentor you will need to be able to respond in all of these roles at some time or other. Roles such as a critical friend or a role model; a networker or a sounding board are all part of the mentor’s toolkit.

However, at the beginning of a relationship, a mentee might seek you out because you have strong skills or knowledge in a particular area. A manager in a company looking for a mentor may want to find someone who is a role model and then, as the relationship grows, look to the mentor to initiate some business introductions and help him or her build networks. A business owner, who starts by wanting only a sounding board, may grow to realise that he or she needs to be challenged and encouraged to think through all his or her decisions. A young person working with a more knowledgeable and experienced mentor may need help in setting him or herself a route forward and contribute in clarifying his or her goals. This is before looking for development and help with specific projects.


By helping with goal setting you are making sure that your mentee has set viable but stretching goals which will help him or her achieve his or her ambitions. And of course, this helps you, as their mentor, because you will know what he or she is trying to achieve and helps you to understand where to focus your sessions.

In addition, your role is to be a ‘critical’ friend, being able to tell your mentee what other people maybe are too polite to mention. You need to be someone who can give impartial supportive or corrective feedback.

You can also be challenging, pushing your mentee to think more deeply about his or her ideas and how your mentee sees him or herself and his or her relationships with other people. Asking ‘challenging questions’ is an effective way of getting your mentee to think through issues or situations in a different way.

If you work in a large company, you can be an excellent mentor for a new person to the organisation. As the mentor, you can guide your mentee, explain how the organisation works, what the politics are, maybe helping him or her to become more worldly wise.

You can also be a role model and often that is the way most people start. You provide a good example for your mentees to follow; your style; your way of working with people. You can also be a Network person, someone who can make the right contacts for the mentee, introducing them and advising them how to meet people and what they need to do.

What kind of mentoring role are you most comfortable with and how can you develop yourself in order to provide other roles as and when required?



Mentoring Essentials is written for experienced managers who want a quick reminder of the skills essential to successful mentoring.

It provides a brief overview of mentoring and what it is and isn’t.  a recognition of the roles you may adopt while mentoring together with a list of the skills required to be an effective mentor.  At only £4.95 it is an invaluable reminder of the essential skills required to enable others to reach their full potential.

Read more here

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