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Betty-Ann's Both Sides Blog

April 24, 2012

In the Middle of the Mentorship Spectrum

  1. Mentorship
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In my last installment, I discussed the Mentorship Spectrum, focusing on the two extremes of mentorship – formalized programs and brief moments of mentorship.

In the middle of these two is a type of mentoring that you can make as informal or structured as you choose but, in order to be a success, the relationship will need some longevity. In these “middle mentorship” situations, a protégé could seek a mentor to offer encouragement or advice on a multitude of issues over a longer period of time.

Alternatively, a protégé may seek a mentor to help reach a specific goal. If your purpose is the former, you’ll definitely want to find a mentor who inspires you. I also recommend that the mentor possesses the virtue of humility – someone who will encourage you to be the very best person you can be and won’t try to turn you into a clone!

If you want to achieve a specific goal, consider a mentor who has been successful in a similar area, and simply ask them for a meeting. Mentors, like all people, are flattered when their accomplishments are recognized and seldom turn down a meeting when a protégé says, “Here’s where I am now, here’s where I want to go and here’s what I want to learn from your success.”

Protégés who can articulate their objectives are a breath of fresh air. I can tell you that there’s nothing worse than protégé who is floundering around, desperate to be rescued, hoping that you will tell them exactly what to do.

When meeting with a potential mentor, test the chemistry between you – much the same as you would on a blind date. If you find that you’re connecting and stimulated by the conversation, ask if they would be willing to meet again! You can ease gently into a mentoring relationship or ask if they would like to meet on a more regular schedule as you work towards your goal. You may even get as specific as setting some parameters regarding how often you’ll meet, for how long and what you expect to accomplish. This would be considered “dating” in the mentorship world.

All of these versions of mentorship are valuable and each has the potential to serve you well. That having been said, don’t feel you have to limit yourself to just one option. In fact, I’d encourage you to be active in many aspects of mentorship concurrently. You could belong to a formal, structured program and be involved with a mentor who is assisting you in reaching a specific goal, all while you gain clarity from a drive-by mentor. It’s rarely one shining person who makes the difference. In fact, it’s usually a confluence of factors.

Opening yourself up to all aspects of the mentorship continuum will allow everything to fall into place. So ask yourself: Am I ready to grow?