How Good A Mentor Are You?

by buildingpharmabrands



Who is Mentor?

Mentor is a character, who is a friend of Odysseus in Homer’s great epic, The Odyssey. Mentor plays a highly supportive role in taking responsibility for the education of Odysseus’s son Telemachus. That is why perhaps the word Mentor has acquired the modern meaning of being a trusted counselor or guide, tutor, coach.

In Homer’s Odyssey Athena, the Greek Goddess assumed the form of the family friend Mentor to support Odysseus’s son Telemachus. While the Odyssey provides only the hints of the assumed role of the sage and the supportive role of Mentor, It was Francois Fénelon, the French Roman theologian, and poet, who in his famous book, Les Adventures de Telemaque, (first published in 1699) emphasized Mentor as a character in his highly supportive role to Telemachus, the son of Odysseus. That describes the journey of the word Mentor in French (1749), and in English (1750) going back through Latin to a Greek name, which became a common noun meaning ‘wise counselor’. Mentor is an appropriate name for person such as a wise counselor as it comes from the Indo-European etymology men, which means ‘to think.’

Growing Importance of Mentoring

Today mentoring has been widely recognized as a critical aspect of the professional as well as personal development of an individual.

It is important to build mentoring programs for organizations to be successful. Mentoring programs are not only meant for ‘A’ players but also for ‘B’ players, as they form the solid citizens of the company that make up to about three-fourths of a firm. They all need constant and constructive feedback and encouragement to meet the challenges that the ever-changing future brings in.

How Good A Mentor Are You?

Thomas J. Delong, John J. Gabarro, and Robert J. Lees in their Harvard Business Article of January 2008, Why Mentoring Matters in a Hyper-competitive world present a picture of a good mentor. They identified certain key characteristics of a good mentor. Check for yourself how good a mentor you are against these.  Based on their research, the authors suggest that a good mentor is:

  1. Someone absolutely credible, whose integrity transcends the message, be it positive or negative
  2. Tells you things you may not want to hear but leaves you feeling you have been heard
  3. Interacts with you in a way that makes you want to become better
  4. Makes you feel secure enough to take risks
  5. Gives you the confidence to rise above your inner doubts and fears
  6. Supports your attempts to set stretch goals for yourself
  7. Presents opportunities and highlights challenges you might have not seen on your own

Image Credit: Proceedings of the PAESMAM / Stanford Workshop on Mentoring