Over the years, I have volunteered with formal mentoring programs in my high schools, post-secondary institution, other universities and colleges with business schools, sponsorship/sport management programs and fundraising/event management programs, as well as with APF and SMCC. These relationships have been extremely rewarding as I watch mentees grow and develop, and career paths flourish. Likewise on the professional side, I do a great deal of paid/client contract mentoring and coaching. This is a major part of our business at the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists® and due to the pandemic, it has grown. I was chatting with a mentee last month and we got onto the topic “What is the role of the mentor?” I thought I would share the outcomes of that discussion.
Today, I have a much clearer perspective of what I can bring to the table, be it through formal institutional mentoring programs that I volunteer with or our paid services. It is the key to understand that it is about what I can bring to the table to assist the mentee. (Truly, I also look at what I can take away, what I can learn from them, and I do learn a lot. Sometimes, I see myself in them—things I like or don’t like. I can recognize that and apply what I need to around it. Sometimes it is trending and marketplace understanding in a geographical area or among a demographic. These are important take-aways for me.)
I believe my role as a mentor/coach is to listen, and share my thoughts and insights. It is not to “fix” things, find jobs, or do their work for them. It is to listen and understand, then support. That means creating discussion whereby they can find the right door to follow, or come up with the right idea, concept, or approach on their own versus telling them what to do. I share my experience, strengths, and passion, and let them take away what they want or can use that fits their personality and situation. I am not there to be a friend (though that often happens), make them happy, or make decisions for them, but rather to support them with the knowledge and experience I can bring to the table.
One of the reasons I love attending conferences like the WSC® is that there are great networking opportunities with mentors and mentees. Many of those whom I mentor (formally, informally, or as clients) have developed through introductions and engagement at conferences like the WSC® and others.
In my mind, being a mentor/coach is simply about listening and sharing my experiences as they may apply at that point in time with the mentee. Let me know how you define the role of mentor. I am always excited to learn and understand differing or supporting perspectives.
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