Mentoring is different from coaching let’s not confuse the two. While coaching is short term, mentoring could be lifelong. Coaching is when you help someone to learn a specific thing by actually showing them how to do it. A mentor is an experienced person, who willingly, provides guidance and support to empower another.

The most successful mentors have been protégés and often continue to work with mentors of their own.

4 facts to invest in mentorship

  • Through mentorship, protégés gain self-confidence.
  • They will often achieve at a higher rate than one without encouragement and support.
  • I have a mentor in any element of my being that requires it.
  • Likewise, I empower others too, as it’s in giving that we receive.

“A knife will not get blunt by sharpening another”

The genesis

As a postgraduate student few years back, I wanted to take advantage and enjoy all the benefits of being a student once again. First on the list was to get a mentor. The process of being assigned a mentor was very competitive.  Students were expected to apply and attend a group interview as part of the selection process.

I was successful, and as requested, I got a mature mentor. Christopher Ross ticked all the boxes “in my head”.  A Director of IT & Operations with 25 years’ of success and had been mentoring for over 10 years.

I had three goals

  1. The route to an advanced communicator and leadership
  2. Transition to private sector establishment from the public sector
  3. Expand my professional network

Successful protégés exhibit similar skills and attitudes.

1. Your goal must be clear

  • The honor is on mentee to initiate a mode of correspondence and expected outcome.
  • You must be in the driving seat! and your goal must be clear.

2. Eat the humble pie, be receptive to feedback

  • Being adaptable, with a desire and willingness to learn is key.
  • Invest and action mentors suggestions on seemingly insignificant processes, be open-minded.
  • When I make good contact, I make sure I’m remembered by keeping in touch.
  • Christopher and I spent a reasonable amount of time adapting my LinkedIn profile to reflect my achievements.

3. Discipline

Respectful of the mentor’s time and boundaries. My mentoring kickoff wasn’t very graceful. I got the timing mixed up and I missed our second phone catchup. I was mortified but my profuse apologies must have softened his heart. Although he was gracious and overlooked the blunder, it never recured!!!

4. Be resourceful, show initiative

I set the stage for the mentoring; I researched him like crazy and it felt I knew him even before our first communication. We never met in person, but we communicated forthrightly for slightly over 6 months. The initial communication was via phone. When my confidence grew, I initiated a web meeting as I wanted to put a “live” face to his name. I made it a matter of principle to email a summary of every meeting to my mentor and also updates of my progress on any set tasks.

5. Be grateful

I sent a text or email after each meeting to show my gratitude. Another rewarding way of showing appreciation for my mentor’s time was actioning his suggestions. The first thing Christopher usually ask was the status of previously assigned tasks.

The mentor–protégé relationship is often mutually beneficial

  • During a mentorship, both mentors and protégés learn new ideas, topics, and situations.
  • Learning these new ways of thinking creates an opportunity for more self-awareness and insight into the way others think.
  • Mentors gain experience in one-on-one communication, counseling, and coaching.
  • Mentors have the opportunity to create a legacy of sharing information and knowledge with another person at all levels of experience.
  • Mentee grows and learns from having personalized support toward achieving a goal.
  • Both see things in varying perspectives, and find new methods of approaching people,

“It is often through the encouragement of another that we evolve a talent others have never seen”

Conclusion and testament