“Ecologists tell us that a tree planted in a clearing of an old forest will grow more successfully than one planted in an open field. The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the forest tree are able to follow the intricate pathways created by former trees and thus embed themselves more deeply. Similarly, human beings thrive best when we grow in the presence of those who have gone before. Our roots may not follow every available pathway, but we are able to become more fully ourselves because of the presence of others.”
– Lois J. Zachary, The Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships
Learning is the fundamental process in mentoring, so both parties – the mentor and the protégé – need to have a connection for meaningful learning to take place.
It’s also important for the mentor to demonstrate a genuine interest in the protégé. And a mentor has to have the desire to share their knowledge and experience. Their reward comes from seeing their protégé grow and develop under their tutelage. As the protégé gains experience and standing in the company, the success of the protégé will naturally be reflected on the mentor.
But above all, there is genuine satisfaction of playing a pivotal role in another individual’s success. The mentor’s vision and values will be a part of the protégé for the remainder of their career.
Meaningful learning will have a profound effect on the mentor, the protégé, and quite possibly the company as a whole. According to Dr. Zachary, mentoring can:
• Help retain the next generation of leaders
• Improve leadership and managerial skills
• Develop new leaders
• Enhance career development
• Place individuals with higher potential on the fast track professionally
Strong mentoring relationships are positively associated with career satisfaction and employee retention. And people who have mentors are more confident, enthusiastic and successful in their jobs.
Does your company have a formal mentoring program? How has it benefited you?