Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mentoring...revisiting definitions

The questions that come up most often are:
1 - What is mentoring?
2 - What's the difference between mentoring and what my manager does when they coach me?
3 - What's a mentor vs. a sponsor?
4 - Why mentor?
5 - Why be mentored?

All questions should have their answers re-visited ocassionally - sometimes the answers evolve; sometimes you need to reaffirm the answer; sometimes the question is prelude to a debate for which there is no single answer.

#1 - Is an developing area. In the past five years, mentoring has become a growing topic in the business arena while mentoring itself has been around for hundreds of years. (if not more) Google the topic. Form some opinions. There is no one answer.

#2 - There is a difference. A mentor is someone removed from your immediate/current situation and who is helping you look long-term. Asking your manager to mentor you is like asking your spouse to mentor you on parenting....

#3 - I don't think I've tackled this topic yet. A sponsor is someone who will be a positive reference and is willing to talk about you in situations where you may not be in the room yourself. Watch for my next posting.

#4 - You can only answer "why" for yourself. I wrote about some of the reasons here.

#5 - Again, it's a personal choice (unlike being coached by your manager). Be willing to do the work - it isn't up to the mentor to make it easy for you - especially if you only see your mentor four times a year. But I'm also just asking: why be mentored? Tell me...

National Mentoring Month is a great time to revisit some of the assumptions and conversations!

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