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The benefits of reciprocity in mentoring

Simon Sinek answers, in this video, the question "at this moment in your life, where are you seeking advice and coaching?" Sinek notes how he is taking an approach to better balance mentor-mentee relationships in his life. Specifically, he chooses to mentor someone only if it is a reciprocal relationship, i.e. the mentee also plays a mentor role and vice versa.

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Comment by Leigh Hynes on August 26, 2015 at 22:25

Until you get to be a mentor, you have no idea that you get so much back from it as well.  When you are a mentee, you keep thinking how wonderful it is that this person gives you so much of their listening space.  When you are a mentor, you can't begin to tell the mentee how much you learn from listening to THEM.

Comment by Hazel Owen on August 25, 2015 at 11:57

Really thought-provoking wonderings, Nathaniel, and I enjoyed reading about your experiences to date :)

  • Is there ever a time that someone just needs a mentor, and may not be able to be a mentor back?
  • Is there ever a time that we can't/don't learn from those we mentor or teach?

Your questions really got me thinking and reflecting. I went through a heap of scenarios (young, old, at-risk, CEOs, etc etc)...and all of them brought me back to - if mentoring is seen as a developmental process, then, no matter what the scenario I would learn something. While the person I was working with may not be recognisably 'mentoring' me, they would be likely to make provocations and through their actions and experiences, help me turn a mirror on my own practice. For example, I have worked with people as they worked through some tough challenges. Frequently (although not always overtly guided by my mentee), I have been forced to examine my own thinking...my assumptions, biases, and prejudices - and have always taken something of value away.

However, I do feel that sometimes you may be in a situation where there is no point of connection, and no matter how hard you both work, the mentoring / coaching relationship isn't going anywhere, and neither of you are seeing any value in the conversations. It's at this point, I believe, that an open conversation would be needed in recognition that, for whatever reason, we cannot, or are not learning, from each other.

What do you reckon? :) 

Comment by Nathaniel Louwrens on August 25, 2015 at 10:28

This video has made me wonder a little bit:

  1. Is there ever a time that someone just needs a mentor, and may not be able to be a mentor back?
  2. Is there ever a time that we can't/don't learn from those we mentor or teach?

In my short experience in mentoring, whether being the mentor or the mentee, I have learnt so much! I have been challenged, stretched, and made to question myself and my thinking. Perhaps this is not always the case?

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