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Becoming A Mentor

Mentoring:  Pairing of a more skilled and/or experienced person with a lesser skilled and/or experienced person with demonstrated potential.1

Mentoring is a powerful form of human development.  It links emerging and future leaders with experienced professionals for career development and helps shape the addictions treatment field’s future.  An established leader can facilitate personal and professional growth by sharing knowledge and insights gathered through the years with an emerging leader.  Mentoring also provides opportunities for both parties and can facilitate the expansion of each other’s leadership skills.

A mentor’s job is to help an emerging leader, or protégé, clarify individual goals and provide guidance in professional leadership development.  In addition, mentors should inspire and motivate their protégés.  This process should prepare emerging leaders for successful leadership positions in the future.2


Mentor Roles and Responsibilities3


  • Answers protégé’s questions and steers them to other sources when necessary
  • Shares wisdom of past experiences
  • Provides candid feedback about perceived strengths and developmental needs


  • Assists in the development of a protégé’s individual leadership development plan and professional goals
  • Highlights and shares leadership development and career opportunities
  • Offers advice on real or perceived roadblocks to effective leadership


  • Provides encouragement and support
  • Provides positive feedback


  • Establishes an open and trusting relationship


  • Links the protégé with others who can enhance the learning experience
  • Provides an opportunity for exposure when appropriate

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Protégé Roles and Responsibilities4


  • Be proactive in asking for mentor’s help when needed
  • Be proactive in seeking mentor’s advice when needed


  • Listen carefully to what is presented and consider new options
  • Accept praise and constructive criticism


  • Be eager to learn
  • Absorb mentor’s knowledge
  • Practice and demonstrate what has been learned
  • Prepare appropriate “homework” for mentor


  • Participate in all leadership and professional development opportunities
  • Focus on leadership skills without getting lost in the process

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Benefits of Mentoring for Established Leaders5

  • Mentoring serves as a link to the front line. It provides important feedback and offers perspective regarding the views of people serving at different levels in the field.

  • Mentoring strengthens one’s own skills and leadership growth while challenging and coaching an emerging leader.

  • Mentoring can help develop many rewarding professional relationships and contacts.

  • Mentoring is a source of recognition and respect within the field.

  • Mentoring gives the established leader a sense of contribution to addictions treatment field and is an opportunity to pass on a legacy to the next generation of leaders.

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Signs of a Successful Mentoring Relationship6

  • The protégé or emerging leader is open to change and transition, exploring possibilities, helping others and learning from others.

  • The mentor and protégé are both inspired by the relationship and gain a great deal of satisfaction from the partnership.

  • The mentor and protégé are both committed to understanding, growing, confronting and solving problems.

  • The protégé is connecting with the mentor and views the relationship as one of value in which mutual interest, respect, and straightforward communication are constants.

  • The protégé is comfortable seeking the mentor’s counsel and support.

  • The protégé takes responsibility for meeting his/her own needs in the relationship.

  • The mentor uncovers new aspects to the protégé’s potential and in turn, allows for self discovery.

  • The mentor has established a comfortable environment for learning and discussion, and enjoys watching the protégé’s growth.

  • As time passes, the relationship is on equal footing, and each regards the other as a friend or peer from whom he/she can seek future advice. Because of the relationship, the protégé has increased his/her self-knowledge, self-acceptance and self confidence.

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