The Mentor and the Mentee enjoy a unique relationship in that both need to agree that one can help the other along…based on:
a. The Mentor being able to establish an environment of unconditional and mutual trust
b. The Mentor being able to demonstrate relevant experience and real knowledge/subject mater expertise(vicarious experience alone will not suffice)
c. The Mentee being willing to commit to absolute and unconditional respect for what the Mentor may say, decide, recommend, direct or even demand of the Mentee
I believe points a, b above are pretty much self explanatory. I would like to expend on point c. that deals with the need for the mentee to demonstrate absolute and unconditional respect for the mentor.
A boxing mentor may decide that his fighter is just not ready for that title shot…and the fighter needs to agree and back down as appropriate (without harbouring any feelings of anger or injured pride) – if this is not the case the mentor will not be able to command the willing support and cooperation of that fighter for too long.
A music maestro/mentor may decide that his mentee is not yet ready for that solo recital…and the mentee needs to sincerely recognize and respect the mentor’s position. Again, if this is not the case, there is very little that the mentor will be able to do going forward, to exert any real influence on the mentee’s future path.
In both examples above, the mentor would have already envisaged additional guidance, direction and perhaps knowledge that the mentee needs to acquire, and those are the steps that both need to agree to, in order for the mentee to reach that ‘next level.’
This respect is what will ultimately create the bond of trustworthiness and knowledge sharing that must thrive if the mentor/mentee are to both get the most out of the relationship.
Successful CEOs have understood this critical requirement and have developed the requisite humility and openness to help the mentor help them, to achieve their own goals.
I have a respectful disagreement with the suggestion that true role of the mentor is “to make the mentee achieve far more than what the mentor himself/herself has achieved.
This relationship should not be initiated as some sort of competition where the objective is to set up the mentee to become more successful or achieve more than what the mentor did in his/her lifetime.
The mentor/mentee relationship typically gets kicked off with an agreement between the Mentor and the Mentee which would/should typically include:
# What the Mentee’s goals and objectives are from the mentoring relationship (expectations)
# What the Mentee’s relationship expectations are (how would they like the relationship with the mentor to flow)
# Sharing of the Mentor’s and mentee’s respective Bios/Resumes so they have some background context
# Clarity on expectations of both the Mentor and the Mentee (what can and cannot be accomplished through the Mentoring relationship
# Existing concerns/issues the mentee is dealing with and needs help/guidance with
# Organization/business challenges
# Relationship issues (with other Executive teams, the Board, etc)
The above is by no means an exhaustive list however it does demonstrate that in no point during the Mentoring relationship is there any need for the Mentor to suggest or commit to helping the Mentee achieve greater accomplishments than that of the Mentor.
I feel that would make the relationship somewhat confined within the parameters of the Mentor’s own sense of personal achievements which may could cloud the need to focus on what the Mentee is seeking to achieve from the Mentoring Relationship.