Mentorship: A Key Ingredient

Aligning mentors to our Fellows is a crucial ingredient in the Initiators Fellowship program. It’s really the secret sauce that differentiates this Fellowship from others with similar aims. Originally viewed as a way to address a lean staffing structure, incorporating volunteer mentors has become one of the great strengths of the program: The decision to involve mentors has delivered a variety of benefits—some intentional, some fortuitous—to our Fellows.

Mentors are recruited for the unique life and professional experience they can call upon to help accelerate a particular Fellow’s growth and development. Mentors are successful business and leadership role models who have broad networks and so can help Fellows expand their spheres of influence. Mentors are servant-leaders—humble individuals who listen and learn and explore right alongside their mentees. In fact, most past mentors reported that, like the Fellows, this program provided them with significant learning and growth as well.

While mentors are sought out for their experience and knowledge and do, in fact, have plenty of wise counsel to offer, one of the key roles in which they serve is that of coach. As a coach, mentors accept that the best answer to a business bottleneck is the answer a Fellow arrives at through independent thought and introspection. So, while a mentor may have smart suggestions to offer, their greater task is to be a thought-partner who can help a Fellow find their own unique responses to their own unique challenges.

It’s hard to overstate the potential impact of a mentor. That said, it takes training and practice to get good at mentoring. Likewise, it takes training and practice to get good at being mentored. Fortunately, the Initiators Fellowship provides training and time for practice, knowing that both skills are essential for any good leader.

By our next post we’ll have identified all of our 2020-2021 mentors and will be excited to share them with you.

In the meantime, here’s a video that explores the role of the mentor in the Fellow-mentor relationship.