Leaders perform many valuable functions in their organizations, including identifying clear goals and objectives, providing guidance and assessment, and offering encouragement. They also mentor, an activity that exceeds the transfer of experienced-based knowledge and encompasses stimulating personal growth, provides inspiration, and sparks a genuine desire for discovery and learning. Not all leaders are suited for mentoring, however, and potential mentors should consider their motives for assuming the role. Individuals who perceive mentorship as a power trip should not be mentors. Those who seek recognition or feel smug satisfaction from imparting their superior knowledge are not well suited to mentoring. Those who believe the mentoring relationship should be a quid pro quo arrangement where the protégé owes something in exchange for mentoring are not mentor material.
Four core competencies comprise the model for successful mentoring, and they can be remembered by the acronym SAGE:
*Surrendering: Mentors must yield their control of the learning process so that their protégés have the freedom to discover. This also means that mentor and protégé are not fixed in unequal power positions.
*Accepting: Mentors must accept their protégés by creating safe emotional environments for learning. This means providing encouragement and support to foster protégé confidence throughout the process.
*Gifting: Mentors must generously deliver their knowledge and guidance without expectation of reciprocity.
*Extending: Mentors must recognize the need to eventually give up the relationship to ensure protégé growth, sometimes seeking other ways to foster learning that lead the protégé to learning independence.
The Mentor Scale is a self-assessment tool that rates one’s personal characteristics in terms of mentor suitability. It identifies the assets and liabilities that one brings to the role by measuring:
*Sociability-relates to one’s preference for being with others. Those with high sociability scores will find it easier to build rapport and engage in effective dialogue. Lower scores indicate that one may convey aloofness and may have to work harder at getting protégés to communicate freely.
*Dominance-refers to one’s need to be in charge. Mentoring needs to be founded on shared power; high dominance scorers grudgingly cede it, low scorers must exert themselves to assume leadership.
*Openness-relates to how easily one relates to others. High scorers easily open themselves to their protégés, low scorers have to work to surmount their reluctance to reveal themselves to their protégés.