Monday, June 23, 2008

Thoughts on Mentoring

I just finished the book The Elements of Mentoring by W. Brad Johnson and Charles R. Ridley at the suggestion of Andy Warren in his blog series on mentoring. While I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to have many people have advised, taught, and coached me, I’ve never been involved in a formal mentor-protégé relationship. After reading all of the work involved, I’m surprised anyone would want to! That statement is partly tongue-in-cheek because it is apparent after reading this book that a successful pairing can be mutually beneficial. Here are just a few thoughts on the book.

The Elements of Mentoring starts by discussing how to be a good mentor, namely that it is important to have both the right personality and the right skill set. It struck me as I read that for most of the advice, I could replace mentor/protégé with any relationship pair, i.e. parent/child, person/spouse, etc. For example, the important of bolstering the protégé’s confidence is a pillar of good parenting. The next sections of TEoM show all phases of a mentoring relationship from picking the protégé/mentor through ending the mentorship. One recurring theme in this section is to ensure that both parties are fully aware of what they are agreeing to by entering into this relationship. I would recommend that both people start out by reading this book. It would provide a common base from which to build schedules, expectations, and timelines.

As expressed in TEoM, I think it’s important to realize that being involved in a mentoring relationship is not for everyone. Just because someone is intelligent and well-respected in their field does not mean they will make a good mentor. Just because they are a good mentor does not mean they will be compatible with every protégé’s goals and personality. Just because a mentoring relationship starts out well does not mean that it will end well. Barring the difficulties in making a successful match, if it can be done, mentoring or being mentored is definitely worth it. Getting involved in a mentoring relationship from either the protégé or mentor side can be a very fulfilling role and can create a relationship that will last long past the end of the mentorship.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree about about women mentoring other women can build a lasting relationship.