I'm always reading definitions of mentoring. Many are prescriptive in a way that makes me feel like mentoring should be left to professors or wizard-masters. However, a few folks create simple terms that show the relationship and leave the door open to endless possibilities.
Rodger Harding said:
An engaged mentor will…
• Provide the Mentee with opportunities, not specific outcomes
• Assist in the exploration of options, not necessarily solutions (a mentor does not teach)
• Explore and understand different perspectives strengths/weaknesses
• Respect and preserve unique Mentee thinking, competencies and impact
• Accept value and priority differences (the ability to transcend personal or projected goals) as well as changing realities as the relationship progresses
• Work with uncertainty – Mentors will not care more about outcomes than their Mentees
• Understand that mentorship oftentimes only bears fruit in years to come – when the Mentee is ready and able to fully absorb the Mentor contribution
It's work for both parties. It takes time. It's about the big picture, not the coaching for the immediate job held. It doesn't even have to be about a job but a mindset - an exploration of a craft - a transition or an emergence. It's a relationship and it's about choices.