A Mentor: Someone Whose Hindsight Can Become Your Foresight

Mentoring is typically can be defined as “a one-to-one relationship between a more experienced person (mentor) and a less experienced person (mentee), which gives people the opportunity to share their professional and personal skills and experiences.  This is a voluntary relationship in which both parties negotiate and agree on terms”.


Often confused with coaching, which is quite a different construct, mentoring programs aim to help the junior partners in the relationship navigate an industry, an organisation, and a career leveraging the past experiences and insights of the more senior partner. Professional coaches are trained to avoid providing an opinion and making suggestions; mentors are encouraged to do so, while at the same time making sure the junior partner owns decisions and their own development and career.


HFL strongly recommends, and often deploys, mentoring initiatives in broader leadership development designs. They are particularly effective in emerging leader programs, where more junior talent can be connected and exposed to senior executives.


Mentoring initiatives developed in support of more formal leadership development programs are strongly recommended and regularly deployed by HFL in design of leadership journeys.

Designing a mentoring program is a delicate task, however. They are not easy and quick to implement. If the settings are not properly calibrated, the mentors not properly briefed, and the engagement agreements not specifically framed, the programs can quickly get off track or under perform. It is vitally important is make sure mentoring initiative shave clear objectives, don’t cross over more formal reporting relationships, and that both parties understand their responsibilities, accountabilities, and stop/go protocols are clearly established.


Adding to the complexity is the variety of mentoring relationships that might be considered: there are four types of mentors: co-mentor, remote internal mentor, remote external mentor, and the invisible mentor. Each of these play slightly different roles, and many emerging leaders might access and leverage several such relationships.


HFL provides a range of support services in this area:


We can provide consulting advice on how to set up and successfully implement a mentoring program;


We can design and execute a program for clients, including the critical briefing workshops for mentees and mentors, the mentoring guides for both parties, program settings etc, and we can handle logistics and matching processes.


We can license all of HFL’s mentoring manuals to a client.


For more information on HFL’s service in this area, please contact us.





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