Overview of Activity
The roles of mentor and protégé are explored in this hands-on activity. Multiple documents also help in guiding leaders.
- To comprehend the roles and responsibilities of mentors and protégés.
- To elucidate the steps necessary to find and work with a mentor.
- Documents provided: Ready to Be a Protégé, Roles and Responsibilities of Protégés and Mentors, A Plan for Finding a Mentor
- Posters of well-known leaders (men and women)
- Skeletal outline of the human body
Tables and chairs arranged in a semicircle
Most successful leaders benefited from having a mentor. Some participants might have had someone who influenced them or provided coaching. Some will say their mentor was their boss. In this exercise, accept whatever experiences they have had and encourage them to review those experiences as you present this model of mentors.
One way to vary the finding-a-mentor exercise is to turn it into a creative art project. Each person needs a large and clear space at a table. Give each person a poster board and a skeletal outline of a human body. Place a pile of craft sticks (i.e., popsicle sticks) and glue sticks near each person.
Step by step (as outlined in Handout 45.3, A Plan for Finding a Mentor), participants add sticks to their mentor’s “body.”
1. Three professional goals on sticks are glued on the body’s trunk.
2. Desired characteristics are glued on each finger of the left hand.
3. Additional preferences are glued on each finger of the right hand.
4. The names of places to look for a mentor are glued on the left foot.
5. The name of possible mentors is glued on the right foot.
Participants should help one another identify barriers to pursuing these plans and suggest potential mentors. This graphic representation can be posted by participants in a place where they will be visually reminded of their plan to get a mentor.
Step By Step Instructions
- Introduce the activity by clarifying the difference between a mentor and a protégé: A Mentor facilitates the personal and professional growth of an individual by sharing the knowledge and insights that have been learned through the years. The mentor sees the potential in a less experienced person and helps to guide that individual along a professional path. The mentor serves as the protégé’s role model and champion. A Protégé is an achiever groomed for advancement: He or she is provided with opportunities to excel beyond the limits of her/his position. Identify the importance of having a mentor by pointing out successful leaders who have publicly acknowledged their mentors. Tell your own story of having a mentor.
- Talk about other examples of leaders and their mentors and the benefits that come from having a model. Refer to the posters. Ask participants about their own mentors. Then ask whether anyone has had a career mentor.
– You can move forward faster.
– You will definitely increase your network.
– You might have the opportunity to work on challenging and interesting projects.
– You will have a smoother transition into unfamiliar territory.
– Your credibility is increased because of your association with your mentor.
– You might gain a good colleague or friend.
– You can learn how to be a mentor.
– You can expand your generosity.
- Distribute Handouts 45.1, Are You Ready to Be a Protégé?, and 45.2, Roles and Responsibilities of Protégés and Mentors. Discuss the roles and responsibilities of a protégé. Use Handout 45.2. Then ask participants to complete Handout 45.1 before the next step.
- Distribute Handout 45.3, A Plan for Finding a Mentor, and go over seven steps in the process:
– Identify what you need (privately).
– Review the characteristics most frequently found in mentors and rank their importance to you (privately).
– Evaluate and select what you are looking for in a mentor. Have participants get into groups of 3 for this next step:
– Create a list of potential mentors. One by one, each person explains what he or she is looking for in a mentor. The members of the group should help her/him identify some potential mentors. After each person has at least a shortlist of potential mentors, reassemble and open up the discussion to the total group. Ask anyone who is stuck trying to create a pool of candidates to summarize what she/he is looking for so that more suggestions can be gathered.
– Participants should then apply their own list of criteria about what they want in a mentor to the list of potential mentors.
– Now have participants form pairs to learn how to approach prospective mentors and sell yourself to these prospective mentors
– One person plays the role of the mentor, while the other practices how to approach a prospective mentor using the ideas on their handout. Then they switch roles. Each provides feedback on the approach used by the other person. Take a few minutes with the whole group to summarize what was learned.
- Review the items participants identified as being important to them in this kind of relationship. They should be made a part of the mentor-protégé agreement. Then draw up a sample agreement on the flipchart, using input from participants. Explain that they should have a draft proposal ready to discuss with their new mentor. Give them time to roughly one out. Suggest that they put the final agreement in writing.
- End the session by sharing a few suggestions on how to handle the mentor-protégé relationship in case . . .
My mentor wants to date me.
The answer is “No!” Never date your mentor . . . not while you are in this relationship, at least. It will only backfire on one or both of you. My mentor is moving beyond our agreement, asking me to do personal errands for him such as getting his car washed. Be assertive and say no. Remind him of the boundaries of this relationship. My manager is envious of my relationship with the mentor. Involve your manager in setting goals. Encourage your manager and your mentor to talk with one another about you and your professional plan. My peers are jealous.
Talk with your mentor and manager to determine what you can do. Generously share what you are learning with your peers. Review with your jealous peers how they can find a mentor. Our personalities clash. We are really mismatched. Tactfully talk with your mentor about whether the relationship should be continued. You might need to end this relationship and go find another. Be sure to learn from this experience.
My mentor won’t let me go. Clarify whether or not you are really ready to move on. Talk with your mentor about your readiness to change the scope of your relationship. Point out your original goals in your agreement and indicate that you have achieved them.
Post Activity Review
Take time shortly after conducting this activity to reflect on how it went, how engaged the participants were, and what questions they raised. Then, make notes that include how much time you actually spent on the activity.