Let's start with a bold concept-"Mentoring can change the trajectory of a career." Over the course of almost two decades, I have seen incredible career trajectories attributed, in part, to great mentorship. In fact, most of the successful leaders I have worked with in my own career were happy to share stories about the mentors in their lives who have helped them. Truly great mentoring can achieve tremendous results and mentees who benefit from capable and confident mentors can grow as leaders. That type of results-driven learning relationship is what I call Powerful Mentoring.
Powerful Mentoring is defined as, "a sustained social learning relationship between two or more individuals, based on mutual trust and respect." That's a mouthful so let's break it down!
SUSTAINED SOCIAL LEARNING RELATIONSHIP
To begin with, powerful mentoringcan only be achieved over time. Learning events, such a classroom training or eLearning, have limited reach and a steep forgetting curve. However, learning that is stretched and reinforced over time not only has a greater impact in the long run, but new skills and behaviors are more likely to last. Therefore, a Powerful Mentoring relationship must be sustained, lasting three to twelve months or even longer, depending on other factors.
The phrase "social learning" is also important. Too often, mentoring relation ships are all social or all learning but for the relationship to achieve its full potential, these concepts need to be balanced. The social aspect means that mentors and mentees find significant connections to strengthen the relationship. Finding connections could include discovering experiences or preferences you have in common, but it is just as important to connect and explore what makes you different from each other, as well. This discovery process enhances trust and helps to establish a strong foundation. The learning aspect of the relationship is important so that the "real" work can be done. Without a focus on learning, mentoring will not achieve results. On the other hand, learning has to be balanced with social connection because too much emphasis on learning will result in a weaker and less trusting relationship.
BETWEEN TWO OR MORE INDIVIDUALS
There are a lot of ways that Powerful Mentoring can show up in the world. There are many types of mentoring relationships, and many of them are not just one mentor and one mentee. Some of the strongest and most impactful mentoring programs I have built utilized multiple types of mentoring relationships.
The traditional type of mentoring relationship, or structure, is one-to-one, which is a relationship between one mentor and one mentee. In some cases, a mentor may have two simultaneous relationships with mentees, but should not have more than that. Overall, this a strong choice because of the individual attention and investment that comes with one-to-one relationship development, and is particularly popular for use with leadership development programs. However, some drawbacks include larger...