There are many examples of mentoring relationships, both real and fictional.
The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, was famously mentored by Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. Richard Branson by Sir Freddie Laker. Sir Anthony Hopkins by Sir Lawrence Olivier. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Johann Sebastian Bach. Obi-Wan Kenobi of Star Wars mentored Anakin and Luke Skywalker.
Mentoring can provide open, sharing relationships that allow people to grow and make their own choices. Mentoring is not just a nice thing to do, it can have a dramatic effect on both an individual’s development and a company’s results.
Mentors provide guidance and support by focusing on another’s development, concerns and needs. Good mentors show they care for that person’s growth.
The key skills of a good mentor:
- Asking questions to help the individual uncover their own solutions
- Listening with empathy in order to hear the true meaning behind the words
- Sharing personal experience and expertise when appropriate
- Encouraging the mentee to make a choice and take action
A mentor with the right knowledge and experience is a valuable asset to every individual. The relationship provides a valuable opportunity for open discussion and exchange of ideas. Successful mentoring relationships build a high degree of trust that provides a safe environment for sharing thoughts and feelings.
Mentoring can be a great addition to formal coaching, as it can present other ideas and options, which allows for enhanced decision making.
I would advise anyone in a leadership position to have not only their own mentor, but also to consider whom they could mentor. Mentoring is a great way to give back to society.
Mentoring is often confused with coaching. Both provide value to the person being coached/mentored, and have their place. It is common for a high potential employee to seek out both coaching and mentoring as part of their development.
Contact us for information about the differences between mentoring and coaching.