Mentoring Myths

As mentorship emerges as a way of learning “what cannot be learned any other way” for individuals in organizations, we are faced with frequently asked questions.

1.  Is mentoring a fad?

Mentorship has been around for generations with a solid root in Greek mythology. In the 1970’s there was a resurgence with the seminal works of Dr. Daniel Levinson’s Seasons of a Man’s Life and Gail Sheehy’s Passages.  In the 1980’s a handful of predominantly US-based large organizations began formalizing mentoring as a means of career development. The 1990’s saw Europe adapt and create new models and today, innovative designs such as flash-mentoring, reverse mentoring, and technology-based systems have been added to the traditional leadership mentoring schemes. There is a growing international network of professionals who are focused on creating quality standards, frameworks and models of effective initiatives.  Program evaluations are proving mentorship is a highly effective means of accelerating development and improving the overall caliber of decision-making.

Mentoring today is tied to supporting the organizations business strategy via key human capital drivers – those influences that have the most significant impact on performance: leadership, engagement, talent management, learning, agility, and innovation.

2.  Who are Mentors today?

Anyone can be a mentor. Mentors facilitate a learning and reflection process such that the protégé/mentee can gain insight while making progress on their goals. The best mentors have a core set of competencies and a genuine desire to support another’s development.


3.  In the times of the #MeToo movement, is there a concern with gender-matching?

Several critical factors that assure trust include: an effective Champion; clearly defined program goals linked to business strategy; a selection and matching process that provides each party with the opportunity of choice; orientation and support of mentors and mentees; on-going development for mentors and a credible program manager who has the trust of participants.


4.  Mentee, Protégé, which one?

As I participate in research and workshops around the world, the debate rages – is it mentee, protégé, mentoree or learning partner. It is whatever you like! There are many terms: learner, apprentice, student, co-mentor, mentoree, trainee, intern, associate, participant, partner…. there is no one way, it is whatever works for you. Sage Mentors typically uses “protégé” simply because we like the way it sounds.

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