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Some thoughts on mentoring

There’s a TV show on Sky Documentaries about an improvisation comedy hip-hop group (who knew!?) in America and it follows their story over a number of years. One of the founders of the group was an inspirational character and joining cast members talked about how influential he was in shaping them as performers.

This shaping process, often referred to as mentoring, where someone with experience guides someone with less experience, seemed to me to be unspoken – roles were assumed without being discussed. This made me think that the majority of the mentoring we do is probably very informal (and subconscious) and happens to different degrees all the time with lots of different people – taking a new colleague under your wing, passing on experience to up-and-coming sporting teammate or I’ve been there interactions between a parent and their kids for example.

Towards the end of the show one cast member explained how their needs from the inspirational founder changed over time and they wanted the relationship to evolve to be one of equals rather than that of a mentor and a mentee. For a number of reasons this was not well received and the mentee ended up leaving the group.

A sad end to an important and powerful relationship which made me wonder…

  • Who might I be mentoring informally and/or subconsciously?
  • What would need to happen over time to make sure we BOTH continue to meet our needs from the relationship?

Good questions I think.

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