Mentoring Essay

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Mentoring,  from  the  Greek  word  meaning  enduring, is defined as a sustained  relationship  between a youth and an adult. This word explains the relationship between  two individuals where one individual (mentor), ensures the overall development of another individual (mentee). The mentor is responsible for the personal as well as professional growth of the mentee. Mentor can also be defined as coach, counselor, facilitator, teacher, sponsor, and model for the other individual. The mentoring  partnership may be defined as an agreement between two individuals sharing experiences and expertise to help with personal growth and development   through   continued   involvement.  The adult offers support,  guidance, and assistance as the younger person goes through  a difficult period, faces new challenges, or works to correct earlier problems. In particular, where parents are either unavailable or unable to provide responsible guidance for their children, mentors can play a critical role.

The   word   originates   from   Greek   mythology. Around 1200 b.c.e., when Odysseus left for the siege of Troy, he requested  his friend Mentor  to take care of his son Telemachus.  Over a period of time Mentor looked after the personal and professional growth of Telemachus.  In fact, at one time he saved his life. Thus the word originates from there, explaining the relationship between two individuals.

There are two types of mentoring:  natural  mentoring and planned mentoring. Natural mentoring occurs through  friendship, collegiality, teaching, coaching, and counseling. In contrast,  planned mentoring occurs through  structured programs in which mentors  and participants  are selected and matched through  formal  processes.  The mentor  shares  personal wisdom, technical expertise, and life experience with the mentee. He or she has to be a good listener, empathizing and understanding the goals and interest of the mentee. But a clear distinction  must be made between friendship and favoritism.

To be a mentor, one must have time, desire, knowledge, and skill to share with the mentee.  He or she first assesses the mentee’s skills, discusses goals, and facilitates the mentee’s becoming a confident person who may make good decisions. Mentors get a chance to pass on their successes, which can give great personal  satisfaction.  Mentors   get  an  opportunity  to practice their interpersonal and management skills on an ongoing basis, which can help the mentor  to succeed even more. Mentors often become recognized as positive role models and are sometimes sought out by others. Many mentors  find that being in a mentoring partnership helps them  expand  their  own horizons and keeps them in touch with what’s going on at other levels of the organization.  Mentors  often insist that they gain more from the mentoring  partnership than their mentee does.

The role of mentee is also important in the mentoring process. Mentees must be willing to learn. They must be able to accept constructive  feedback. Mentees must be willing to “stretch” to try new things and take risks. Many people have achieved success because someone encouraged them to aim higher. They must be able to identify short-term and long-range career goals and accept that those goals may change.

The ancient  education  system in India followed the  same system and  was known  as Guru-Shishya Parampara   (teacher-student  relationship),   where the  student  resided  in the  teacher’s ashram  (campus) and guru (teacher) took care of the student and ensured  his  overall development  according  to  his capabilities.

Every one of us is ultimately  responsible  for our own  career.  However,  it can  help  tremendously  to have someone to talk with who can provide a listening ear and share what they have learned about the organization and the things that helped them succeed. Mentors can provide valuable direction and clarification in uncertain  times. Mentors  can help the mentee figure out what they need to do to fill in the gaps between  where they are now and  where they want to be in the future. Mentors  can sometimes serve as “door openers,” informing the mentee  of opportunities they may not be aware of (for example, referral to a program or training, introducing  them to people in their  field of interest,  or recommending them  to assist in a project that expands their skills). The most valuable and important assets mentors contribute are a listening ear and a different perspective.

The mentoring  process emphasizes clear expectations, clear context, and commitment of both parties involved in the process using clear and precise communication, coordination,  and cultural change.


  1. Anne Bruce, Be Your Own Mentor (McGrawHill, 2008);
  2. Brian Caldwell, The Return of the Mentor: Strategies for Workplace Learning (Routledge, 1993);
  3. Brad Johnson and Charles R. Ridley, Elements of Mentoring (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008);
  4. Jane Renton, Coaching and Mentoring: A Guide to What They Are and Getting the Most Out of Them (Bloomberg, 2009);
  5. “Workplace Mentoring,” (cited March 2009).

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