Quick Takes: How to Be a Smart Protégé

This Wall Street Journal article, How to Be a Smart Protégé, is an excellent quick guide to mentoring. The authors offer eight tips.  My favorite is.

6. Make It Mutual.

Mentoring networks involve shared learning between two people. Too many people enter the relationships thinking of themselves as plebeian protégés who get support. Savvys, on the other hand, realize they have something to offer their mentors, too, and help them out whenever they can—which gives the other person a deeper vested interest in them.

One Savvy, a technology consultant, describes how she fostered relationships with three senior colleagues: "If I saw a senior consultant who was swamped with something, and I realized that I didn't necessarily have the computer intellect to be on his level there, but I could type really fast and I could be creative and design the presentation, and I could help with all the interviewing, I said as much to him. I said to him, 'Listen, I'd like to help you out if you'd like it.'"

Now, let me turn this on its head. As a guy in his mid-fifties, I make the assumption that I don't know anything. I seek out people in their twenties and thirties to learn new things.

The key for us seasoned veterans is to make learning mutual, not simply instructing the protégé.The benefits are beyond your imagining.

31 Questions: mentoring

19. How do leaders mentor other leaders?

My experience has been with older men and women who took me under their wing and helped me to learn to manage many aspects of my professional and personal life. Almost all of them are deceased. So, whatever they passed on to me, I hope still lives on through what I do.

How does a mentoring relationship work?

Please be very basic in describing it.

Mentoring, Consulting and Learning

Brad Respess has two compelling posts on mentoring and consulting.  In the first - Mentor Lost, Mentor Gained? - he celebrates the work of a consultant, Bas Hofland, as “possibly the most brilliant mind and best critical thinker in the industry.”  High praise, indeed. 

Every consultant would love to have a client as celebratory as Brad.  Of course, every client would love to have a consultant the quality of Bas.  It is great to see the perfect marriage of client need and consultant expertise. 

In the second posting - Mentoring Ain't Easy - he writes about the importance of mentoring.  He describes the difference between the Greek and Hebrew learning models as he learned in a Sunday school class.  While I am supportive of the point Brad is making, the distinctions made by his Sunday school teacher are historically inaccurate. 

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