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How to become a sucessful mentor

The Story of Mentor starts as early as in Homer´s Odyssey. When Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, was leaving to fight in the Trojan war, he entrusted his home to his long-time friend Mentor, whose task was to bring up, but also lead to responsibility his son, Telemachus.

After the war, Odysseus was condemned to wandering in vain for a long 10 years trying to get back home. Meanwhile, his son Telemachus grew up and went to look for his father. Athena, the goddess of warfare and patron of the arts, took the Mentor´s role on herself and accompanies Telemachus on his journey.

John Flaxman (1755–1826): Athena in the guise of Mentor and Telemachos (Odysséen, Niloe 1973).

Over time the word Mentor became a synonym for a trustworthy advisor, friend, teacher and educated person.

Mentoring is a basic form of human development, where one person invests time, energy and personal know-how for the growth and abilities of the other person. Traditionally, mentoring was explained as a formal process, where an older and more experienced person helped and led a younger person through his/her learning process within the framework of society.

Mentoring often describes activities of an experienced person preparing a younger colleague for individual activities, providing career advance and encouraging high performance standards. In case of success, mentoring had a huge impact on the career of the person given.

Mentors were also older, experienced people in the organization, who took the young newcomers under their wings, protected and taught them. However, this approach has been very much criticised for its inclination to prioritizing individuals, career advance and internal politics of companies.

Mentoring can be defined as important, long-lasting and beneficial influencing the style or life of a person given, generally as a result of one-to-one personal contact. A Mentor is a person, who offers knowledge, view, attitude or wish, which is especially important for another person.

Mentoring can be offered whenever and almost wherever.

Mentoring can also take the form of a one-time intervention or long-term relationship. It can be provided in an informal, friendly way, or formally as a part of a career development of employees.

Mentoring is a process, where the Mentor and the Mentee (the person receiving mentoring) work together on revealing and development of inner skills of the Mentee and encourage the Mentee to reach the knowledge and skills as an opportunity for encouragement of his/her needs. The Mentor carries out the role of effective instructor, advisor, and friend.

You may be asking, is Mentoring suitable for me, or my company? 

Mentoring is a quite underrated form of professional development nowadays.

In the services area, the quality of performance of individual employees is often lower than we would expect and implying mentoring from the employer´s side is a very suitable and clever solution. Indeed, each Mentor has to be thoroughly prepared for the role. He/she must answer the question, if he/she is emotionally and psychologically prepared to invest time and effort into helping the others, to him/herself.

If the Mentoring project is well prepared and its implementation done in the right way  – it is a proven form, which leads not only to respect of the Mentor´s role inside a company, but also to increase in company turnover and improvement of customer service, which is more and more important for an increasing number of companies.


Written by

Bára Soukupová

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