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Mentoring is an enduring relationship between two people that transcends the formal work relationship of a boss and a subordinate. It is simply when the more experienced and more knowledgeable person helps to guide the less experienced and knowledgeable individual. Essentially, a mentor must be someone a mentee looks up to in a leadership role. A mentee seeks validation from the mentor in the way and manner he/she exudes empathy, bonding and also in reprimanding and shaping him/her up to be a  better person.

Recipients expect much more than providing answers to puzzling questions about life, but also the daunting challenges of everyday living and the modus operand for tackling them. Mentorship embraces both moral and psychological support for work related issues, career and professional development.

Mentorship demands a keen sense of responsibility from the individual. For most recipients, their mentor is simply the totality of the mould they intend to become, while others aspire to surpass the expectations of their mentors. As role models, their ideas and ideals should always have a strong and admirable appeal to assuage the awkwardness and self-doubt of the recipient.  A mentor’s personality and carriage, philosophy of life should all be learning points for a green horn whose fertile mind is ready to absorb all the principles and rules of the game of wisdom.

It is not in all cases that a mentor is expected to be a novice. There are people who are repositories of knowledge and deep understanding of issues in all spheres of life but seek the protean wisdom and mentoring guidance of a gifted few. The gifted few could be elder statesmen or individuals who have attained utmost professional competence in their various vocations and are deeply revered for their high sense of judgment and opinions. Their opinions are not colored by emotions or sentiments but by a high sense of objectivity.

Even if mentorship is not gender based, most mentor/ protégé collaborations are usually same sex situations. Most males are inclined to having male mentors, while female protégés have female mentors. But in rare cases, you find a purely professional collaboration where a female may develop a mentorship relationship with a male and vice versa. That level of mentoring could also be rather on the domestic level as well.

A core objective of mentoring is for mentors to assist protégés in reaching their full potential in life. They also assist in inspiring and building confidence in all their endeavors. In situations where protégés are showing creative effort in an enterprise, it is the mentor’s responsibility to help sustain such efforts. When protégés ask pertinent questions like, ‘’Am I on the right path? ‘’A discerning mentor would assume an ownership role in analyzing the situation and proffer a solution on the way forward.
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The integrity question is often played up in mentoring sessions as the mentor consistently stresses the need for the recipient to be honest and fair in all interactions. They would always emphasize the perils of trying to cut corners and act for the sake of expediency. The far reaching benefits of integrity will be a major lesson for recipients. Mentors are capable of evaluating certain assumptions made by protégés and help to sift facts from fiction or myth and ascertain what unwritten rules or convention the protégé should adopt. A lot of presumptions and established thought patterns have misled quite a number of people. It is imperative that mentors expose recipients to different approaches to life and living that would enrich their social values.

Mentorship is often an exciting collaboration if the protégé and mentor are drawn or driven by the same passion, maybe an inclination to the arts or love for music. Mentorship, then assumes a different level as the mentor applies emotional intelligence to situate the dreams and desires of the protégé. They understand each other’s passion, which reflects a strong yearning to impart knowledge from the mentor and also a deep well of desire to learn.

Conversely, mentorship could take on a deeper meaning and understanding if the mentor’s protégé is inclined to forge his own path, but has to be guided by the mentor. The conversation that expresses their differences only elevates their level of commitment to each other. This is undoubtedly a very mature interaction and both parties particularly the mentor must be very understanding and appreciative of this peculiar kind of mentorship.

Questioning is a very relevant tool in consummating a mentoring process.  By questioning, one is able to cultivate deep connections with certain experiences that help to build a learning process. Mentors must have questioning skills to elicit response and enhance the protégé’s thinking process. They must be adept at asking leading questions like an advocate in a law court. They help the protégé to develop an independent thinking process. The protégé is now empowered having come up with their own answers. This often leads them through a journey of self discovery and mastery they had never known.

Conversation is key in every mentoring relationship. Mentoring presents an extraordinary opportunity to improve self and for a most fulfilling and effective mentoring process both recipients and mentors would learn from each others experiences.

By Michael Nwabuzor

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