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Referred to as ‘wise advisor’ in 1750 and derives from the Greek ‘Mentor’, a character in the "Odyssey,“ a friend of Odysseus and adviser of Telemachus (often actually Athene in disguise).


This approach uses the experience of an individual to teach the novice.
The mentor is not on hand every step of the way but is available to dispense advice to solve an immediate problem until the next time.
This approach is slightly more detached than coaching.

Finding a mentor is not as easy as it sounds. They can be a rare breed.
Rather than individuals having to find them a good leader will set up a system of mentors and encourage individuals to use them.
Naturally, a team leader would act as a mentor for the team.
Others at operational and strategic level may be harder to find.

If you are at the top as a leader it will be up to you to organise a meeting of operational leaders in order to discuss mentoring.
Amongst these operational leaders there should be some who already have experiences of mentoring to share.
If you can quote any external examples so much the better.

How can they help?

A good mentor is able to provide support in many different ways.
These could include a boost in morale improving motivation, self confidence and esteem.
Others could be introducing you to contacts, improving skills, advising on career matters, counselling and feedback.

This is usually a two way affair it depends upon what you wish from the relationship and that of the mentor.

Personal problems and how they conflict with work related matters might also be discussed.

Much mentoring is provided unconditionally and without prejudice.
Owing to this, people with higher than normal fears or risk (The Complete Risk Management package) aversion can develop with a reduced fear of failure.

One aspect of good communication is listening and this is requirement is needed by a good mentor.

To make the relationship work you will need to be open and happy to discuss particular issues.
You must be honest and refer to failures as well as successes.

You are not confined to just one mentor you may wish to have two, one for work and one for non-work issues.
What ever the relationship both you and the mentor should benefit equally.

Guidance can be seen in many forms, for example, parental and other role models or religion.

A mentor also has the ability to stand back and take an objective view.
If necessary seek out a mentor and ask for feedback.
Be prepared for some forthright views as you want to know where you can improve.

It’s good to ask for views before they are thrust upon you, that way you are in control and will gain in confidence and motivation. Without regular self analysis you won’t have an opportunity to grow.


Like any relationship it may need a little time to get the best out of it. It may fail altogether.

There may be a reluctance on the part of the mentor to listen to your issues.
Perhaps the mentor becomes too critical and judgemental.
Perhaps the relationship, from the viewpoint of either of you, begins to become too personal.
Any actions that may make you feel uncomfortable may signal the end of the relationship.

You may be of a disposition that doesn’t take criticism really well.
You must learn not to take it personally if you have requested feedback.
Any negative aspects should be used in a positive manner for you to build on your skills and behaviours which will increase your motivation in the long term.


The chief executive officer of a company must supply a strong lead in mentoring and succession planning.

The organisation should employ extra efforts in these areas in particular, because of the shortness of tenure of many positions.
Retaining the best people and development of the potential of individuals is very important.

In general, reducing costs and maintaining shareholder loyalty are not as highly praised as corporate governance and innovation.
Maintaining the status quo can be a recipe for failure as your competition moves forwards.