4 Mentoring Myths You Need to Know


As mentorship emerges as a way of learning “what cannot be learned any other way” for individuals in organizations, we are faced with frequently asked questions.

1.  Is mentoring a fad?

Mentorship has been around for generations with a solid root in Greek mythology. In the 1970’s there was a resurgence with the seminal works of Dr. Daniel Levinson’s Seasons of a Man’s Life and Gail Sheehy’s Passages. In the 1980’s a handful of predominantly US-based large organizations began formalizing mentoring as a means of career development. The 1990’s saw Europe adapt and create new models and today, innovative designs such as flash-mentoring, reverse mentoring, and technology-based systems have been added to the traditional leadership mentoring schemes.

There is a growing international network of professionals who are focused on creating quality standards, frameworks, and models of effective initiatives. Program evaluations are proving mentorship is a highly effective means of accelerating development and improving the overall caliber of decision-making.

Mentoring today is tied to supporting the organizations business strategy via key human capital drivers – those influences that have the most significant impact on performance: leadership, engagement, talent management, learning, agility, and innovation.

2.  Who are Mentors today?

Anyone can be a mentor. Mentors facilitate a learning and reflection process such that the protégé/mentee can gain insight while making progress on their goals. The best mentors have a core set of competencies and a genuine desire to support another’s development. 

3.  In the times of the #MeToo movement, is there a concern with gender-matching?

Several critical factors that assure trust include: an effective champion; clearly defined program goals linked to business strategy; a selection and matching process that provides each party with the opportunity of choice; orientation and support of mentors and mentees; on-going development for mentors and a credible program manager who has the trust of participants. 

4.  Mentee, Protégé, which one?

As I participate in research and workshops around the world, the debate rages – is it mentee, protégé, mentoree or learning partner. It is whatever you like! There are many terms: learner, apprentice, student, co-mentor, mentoree, trainee, intern, associate, participant, partner…. there is no one way, it is whatever works for you. My organization, Sage Mentors, typically uses “protégé” simply because we like the way it sounds.

About the Author - 
Catherine Mossop FCMC, Sage Mentors Inc.

Catherine is known for designing mentoring initiatives that increase engagement of stakeholders, retains and accelerates high-potential talent, improves the overall caliber of leadership decision-making and delivers on the strategy. A selection of her clients include: teaching and community hospitals, and long term care facilities in Ontario and Bermuda, Federal Government, Ontario Government, many health service providers, mining/construction/industrials, banks and financial institutions, technology and pharmaceuticals, and NFP/social services agencies.

Catherine was Board Member of CMC-Ontario for several years: Fellows Committee, Membership Committee, Mentoring Committee. 

She is a contributing author: The SAGE Handbook of Mentoring, Clutterbuck et al.; Developing Successful Diversity Mentorship Programmes, Clutterbuck et al.; Successful Professional Women of the Americas: From Polar Winds to Tropical Breezes, Punnett et al.; Mentoring and the World of Work in Canada.

Catherine is an alumni of the Governor General Canadian Leadership Conference, and Fellow, Certified Management Consultants of Canada. To learn more, visit Sagementors.com or contact Catherine via email.