Five Roles A Great Mentor Masters

mentoring program

A Mentor Has Many Roles.  No other relationship is quite like having a mentor. Good mentoring relationships are incredibly powerful, at all career levels. They give the mentee a safe space to analyze successes and failures, review plans and find the answers to the toughest career challenges. Mentoring takes time, thought, and energy. According to a recent article, mentors must be willing to take on 5 key roles. Are you ready, willing and able?

The Advisor

Mentors regularly share their career experiences, both positive and negative. What have you been through that is similar to your mentee’s situation? How can you use it to help them find solutions to their own challenges? What lessons can you share? Tell them about your mistakes, not just your star stories.

The Supporter

Mentoring is a personal relationship, between two people with emotions as well as thoughts.  As a mentor, you might provide moral support or even emotional support. You must be willing to have awkward or uncomfortable conversations. Although difficult, these are often the most impactful discussions you will have with your mentee.

The Sponsor

Sponsors get their protégés into new roles. A mentor is not always a sponsor (learn more about the differences). However if the opportunity arises, a mentor can help their mentee take on new projects or even entirely new jobs. When you sponsor someone for a new role, you put your own reputation behind hers to make it happen. Choose your mentees carefully!

The Tutor

We take for granted that the mentor knows more about a given subject or activity than the mentee. This means giving performance critiques: telling the mentee, clearly and objectively, what she did well, what she did not do well, and what it takes to improve. Although this may involve more uncomfortable discussions, truthful feedback is at the heart of mentoring. If you’re not willing to do it, don’t be a mentor.

The Role Model

As a mentor, you walk the walk, as well as talking the talk. Being a mentor means being willing to publicly live that role model life, to the best of your ability, every day. And while you may have the occasional lapse, it also means that you model owning your mistakes, and your human frailties, and getting back on track.

Be the Best Mentor You Can Be

The best mentoring relationships help grow skills and advance careers beyond what the mentee could do alone. Before you agree to be a mentor, ask yourself if you are willing to put your energy into all of these aspects. Like any other part of your career, if you are going to mentor, do it well!


Marne Platt

Dr. Marne Platt is the President of Fundamental Capabilities and the author of 3 books (so far): Living Singlish: Your Life, Your Way; Professional Presence; and PREP For Success. Originally a practicing veterinarian, she built a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. She founded Fundamental Capabilities to ‘pay it forward’ by providing career development workshops and coaching for women. ‘Living Singlish: Your Life, Your Way’ is an ‘older sister in your pocket’ packed full of advice for young women on building their own independent and exciting life. 'Professional Presence' and PREP For Success' help you strengthen your spoken and unspoken communication and leadership presence.

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