Three Nontraditional Mentoring Models That Work
How anyone can be a mentor
When I ask new or prospective mentoring pairs to picture a great mentor, often images of a “sage on the stage” come to mind. They picture someone who tells tales of battles won and lost, trials and tribulations over time, offering Yoda-like truth bombs such as, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Or, “Decide, you must, how to serve them best.” Indeed, there are many wonderful lessons to learn from our elders, but defining a mentor in this way misses the mark.
Although the image that first pops to mind is that of a wise elder, the traits ascribed to a good mentor belie this narrow picture. When I ask mentors and mentees to articulate the qualities they view as essential in a good mentor, they often name wisdom, experience, the ability to learn, listening without judgment, a commitment to the relationship and the ability to extend and earn trust.
These descriptors paint a picture not of an authority who prescribes a learning journey limited to their own life experiences, but of someone who facilitates a mentee’s learning by being a “guide on the side.”
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