Mentoring: The Components for Success

By Young, Clara Y.; Wright, James V. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, September 2001 | Go to article overview

Mentoring: The Components for Success

Young, Clara Y., Wright, James V., Journal of Instructional Psychology

Mentoring is a process that has been used widely in the workplace as well as academia. The mentoring process has been utilized in different forms whether formal or informal as well as the relationships which might be CEO to vice-president, faculty to student, faculty to faculty, student to student, or CEO to CEO. The mentor is a person who is skilled, knowledgeable, a visionary, dynamic, and committed to the process of improving individual's skills. The mentor exhibit behaviors of guiding, coaching, nurturing, teaching, and modeling all for the advancement of the protege. Even though mentoring is not a new concept, the process has not always been successful for all persons entering mentoring relationships. The purpose of this paper is to address mentoring in terms of the components that cause these relationships to be successful. The components of mentoring are the process and the mentor assisting the protege Establishing the relationship will be addressed in terms of how to, to what extent and follow-ups nearing completion of the process, assist in assessing the potential of having a successful relationship.

Anyone who pursues a profession wants to be successful. Success may appear to be easy once a person has obtained the academic credentials, a position in the chosen field with a reputable company, organization, or institutions of higher learning. However, many people may find themselves in this position on a temporary basis because the rules of success are not written on a tablet of stone. Oftentimes persons in this situation are at a loss in terms of what to do. The question is, Is there an opportunity to regroup? What can I do so that I will not be in this position again? Where can I go or whom should I contact? These questions may be difficult to answer in the crisis, but if companies and/or academia want new employees to be successful, then these entities should consider mentoring as a way to guiding neophytes through the process to insure success. So the question is: "What determines successful mentoring relationships?" In this article, the components of successful mentoring relationships are addressed to assist in developing and assessing the process for persons seeking a mentor or persons desiring to become mentors.


The concept of mentoring has been visualized, "since the first telling of the mythical legend of a Mentor, friend, and counselor who was entrusted with the education of Odysseus' son" (Adams & Scott, 1997). Trusted advisors have been influencing the aspirations and advancement of a protege, those they guide" for a long time. This mentoring concept developed based on the actions of the individuals and success in the outcome of Odysseus' son. However, what actually happened still has mythical connotations. In fact, the Mentor was responsible for all facets of life, which included physical, intellectual, spiritual, social, and administrative development (Clawson, 1980). In addition to the development of aforementioned aspect of Odysseus son's life, the process also taught the son how to think and act for himself (Kay as cited in Crow & Matthews, 1998). Since that time, mentoring has been cyclic in the professional arenas of business and academia but appears to be making a powerful comeback (Michalak, 1999) and has become the heart of success in graduate education and K-12 (Kelly & Schweitzer, 1999). The relationship described between the Mentor and Odysseus' son can seldom be duplicated on the journey to success. As such, many researchers have developed definitions to assist in understanding the mentoring process for practical use in various professional arenas.

Mentoring has been defined as a process of an integrated approach to advising, coaching, and nurturing, focused on creating an viable relationship to enhance individual career/personal/ professional growth and development (Adams, 1998). Cory & Matthews (1998) defined mentoring in an administrative context which involves a person who is active, dynamic, visionary, knowledgeable, and skilled with a committed philosophy that keeps the teaching and learning of students in focus; and who guides other leaders to be similarly active and dynamic. …

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