Wednesday, March 5, 2008


“To the world, you may just be somebody. But to somebody, you may just might be the world”


The Great Alexander was the mentee of Aristotle. Aristotle was the mentee of Plato. And Plato was the mentee of Socrates. The kind of relation all these great personalities had between them is known as mentee and mentor and the process of the mentor who is an expert in his domain equipping certain skills and abilities to his mentee who is not an expert in the same domain is known as mentoring. The concept of mentoring is age old. If anyone acquired fame in his life there is always someone who has laid a ladder for the success.


Mentoring is the process of helping to realize the hidden potential or discover the hidden talents with in a person. It is a link between the mentor and mentee with the former getting sense of satisfaction and achievement and the latter learning and growing either personally, professionally or socially.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction”, John Crosby quoted. In brief, mentoring can be defined as the relation between an experienced individual and an inexperienced individual where the former provides the training and helps in grooming the latter.

Eric Parsloe of the Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring defined the purpose of mentoring as “To support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance, and become the person they want to be”.

The origin of mentor came from Odyssey where Mentor was the close friend of Odysseus as well as the teacher for Telemakos who was the son of Odysseus. When Odysseus went on a long tour he handed over the responsibility of his son, Telemakos to his friend Mentor who took the guardianship. Mentor not only guarded the friend’s son but also he guided, advised and counseled until Odysseus returned. Mentor trained and groomed Telemakos in all spheres.


Mentoring helps people to get tuned, trained and adjusted in an institution immediately. It helps in enhancing the individual skills of mentor as well as mentee. It enhances the production, productivity and performance of an organization by minimizing any communication gaps and differences amongst the employees. Every individual looks for support and guidance when he enters any institution. He looks for an experienced, trustworthy and reliable person for guidance. Mentoring helps to break the initial hiccups and barriers raises confidence and comfort levels.


“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”, Winston Churchill.

The primary role of a mentor is to encourage and motivate the mentee or protégé. He should provide inspiration and direction. He should be accessible and approachable. He must be able to stand out from the crowd. The mentee must accept him like his role model. He should be an excellent listener and must be in a position to maintain confidentiality about his mentee. He must be a man of principles. He must be specialized in his field. He should have attained very good education, experience and expertise. In brief, he should be like a guide, philosopher, counselor, psychologist, teacher, trainer, leader, adviser, motivator etc.,


“The ripest peach is highest on the tree”.

He must have lot of patience and perseverance. He must have passion to learn and grow. He should have great regard and respect towards his mentor. He must be ambitious and willing to experiment new things. He should take initiative and should be proactive in his approach and attitude. Whenever the mentor is busy with his schedules the mentee must not give up and preserve till the end and up to the hilt. Every mentee must realize his hidden potential and should try to touch his upper limits. It is aptly said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp”. He must be in a position to accept criticism gracefully. He should not have any false ego.


Mentoring helps both the mentor and mentee in many ways. It helps in discovering and delivering the hidden talents. It unlocks the inner energy lying dormant. It converts an ordinary person into an extraordinary person. There is a great sense of satisfaction and achievement for the mentor that he contributed something for the society thereby leaving a mark behind. For the mentee there is personal growth and fulfillment. He can advance his career with the tools and techniques. He will be confident in taking up the reins of leadership wherever he goes without any hiccups. It is aptly said, “If a drop of water falls in a lake there is no identity. But if it falls on a leaf of lotus it shines like a pearl. So choose the best place where you can shine”. Therefore, choosing the right mentor is the sine quo non for any mentee.


The mentor must treat his mentee professionally as well as personally. If it is possible for him to mentor then only he should proceed and he should not make false commitments and promises. Right from the day one to the day last he should continuously provide guidance, evaluate the performance and provide impartial feedback for correction and improvement. He should focus on the areas of improvement and advise how the mentee can perform better.

The mentor should set goals so that they provide direction for the mentee. There must be specific goals so as to avoid beating around the bush. There must be fixed time frame to achieve the set specific goals. The goals must not only be reachable but also achievable.

The mentor should never criticize the mentee personally. However, he can criticize the behavior for correction and for improvement. He should know how to appreciate and when to appreciate genuinely. Appreciation for the sake of appreciation will prove to be counter productive. The appreciation should be specific to the situation and should be objective.

The mentor must literally allow the mentee to see inside the mind of the mentor. He must communicate at ease and must empathize with his mentee.

The mentor must know the pulse of the people and should be an expert in human psychology. He should build trust as trust begets trust. The mentee always prefers to have a trustworthy and reliable mentor.

The mentor should have an attitude to go extra mile. He must be willing to work extra hours out of the way to please and fulfill the aspirations and expectations of the mentee. He should have an attitude to work round the clock.

The mentor must have philanthropic bent of mind to serve the society so as to bring dramatic and drastic changes in the people and in the society as a whole. The mentee should develop the attitude that his mentor is everything for him. Of course, it does not happen in overnight. It requires sustained confidence building measures to create such a situation.

The mentor should partner for progress. He should make his mentee independent in all areas so that mentee can handle everything of his own. There is a Chinese proverb, ‘Don’t give a fish. Instead teach a person how to fish’. Any mentoring must equip mentee with all skills and abilities so that mentee can have mettle and he can elevate himself to the status of mentor to produce more mentee.

The relationship between a mentor and a mentee is that of a relation between a Research guide and a Research scholar during any PhD work. There should be mutual trust and respect between the both.

Mentoring is not a spoon feeding. It is a process of imparting specialized tools and techniques from an expert person to an inexpert person. Mentor is not expected to solve all the problems and he is not expected to answer all the questions of mentee. It should be appreciated that the process of mentoring is to help groom the mentee to a specific domain or area of study. In a nut shell, mentor just fine-tunes the mentee.

It is desirable to conduct SWOT (Acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis for both the mentor and the mentee so as to make the mentoring process effective and efficient. Such an exercise would bring best results for the both mentor and mentee.

The relation between the mentor and mentee should not be treated like an affair rather it should be like a marriage with bonding to bring out synergy between both the mentor and mentee.

During the process of mentoring the mentor must encourage the mentee by calling ‘You can do it’, ‘I believe in you’, ‘I like your speech’, ‘You are great’, ‘You are unique’, ‘I am learning certain things from you’, ‘As a mentor I have discovered my own strengths’, ‘Your smile is magical’ etc. All these things are to be applied according to the strengths of each mentee.

In order to ensure the survival and success of mentoring relation both mentor and mentee must be highly dedicated, motivated and committed to the cause.


The corporate are realizing the need for mentoring due to the growing attrition levels. The organizations are conducting many training activities so that the employees are trained and groomed regularly. There is also provision for one to one mentoring and group mentoring in few companies. Mentoring helps to bridge the gap between superiors and subordinates so that the grievances or the problems can be handled. It helps the organizations to check attrition, and also enhances better relations and productivity. The companies are likely to spend money related to mentoring. As a result, there is huge scope towards this field.


“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal”, Albert Pine.

Every individual must put his earnest efforts to contribute his best for the society. What is the use of keeping the entire knowledge with us. In fact, knowledge grows when shared. Let us not wait for somebody to do these activities rather let every person take initiative to pass on the wealth of knowledge from one generation to another. Mother Theresa aptly said, “Don’t wait for leaders. Do it alone, person to person”. Let us leave the world better than what we found it.


No comments: