Toastmasters uses mentoring extensively by teaming up an experienced member with new members to the organisation. Mentors help coach the new members through their first three speeches, (and beyond if required), and can gain credit for the Advanced Toastmaster Gold award. However mentors can be used at any time by any Toastmaster when the need arises. In fact the role of Immediate Past President is a mentoring role where help and guidance is provided to the new Club President and committee during their term.

History of Mentoring
In Greek legend, Mentor was Odysseus' trusted councillor. Young King Arthur had Merlin the Magician as his mentor. Generically the word means 'a wise and loyal adviser'.

Through time, mentors have been an important resource allowing apprentices and new employees to learn from their experienced co-workers. Many people in today's workforce have not had the benefit of a mentor. Those who have find the relationship to be rewarding and an invaluable resource.

While technology has placed plenty of tools at our disposal, such as illustrated manuals and comprehensive videos, nothing replaces one of the oldest, most valuable tools of success - the mentor.

Careful Cultivation
Good mentors are found and cultivated, not grasped and manufactured. Mentors can be located around your immediate working environment or professional circle and are chosen for being knowledgeable and approachable.

They are consultants, professional critics and friendly advisers and chosen to ensure the prospective mentor/mentee relationship has mutual interests and is compatible in temperament and personality. One good mentor is worth at least a year of tuition expenses.

Mentor's Make-Up
A good mentor provides the following qualities:
  • Knows valuable organisational information;
  • Shows interest in the mentee's development
  • Offers emotional support
  • Cultivates talents
  • Offers praise and gives feedback
  • Demonstrates stability, patience and respect
  • Has good listening skills and flexibility
  • Leads by example
Two Way Process
A good mentor receives the benefits of:
  • Satisfaction
  • Recognition
  • Remaining productive
  • Sharing skills
  • Learning from the mentee
  • Honing organisational skills
As author Steven Covey states "we only truly know something when we can teach it to others".

Receptive Recipients
As the recipient, mentees have responsibilities to their mentors by being:
  • Eager to learn - willing to accept new challenges
  • Receptive - being prepared to accept feedback as an opportunity to improve
  • Open to new ideas - able to see things from another perspective
  • Loyal - will not to violate confidences or trust
  • Grateful - appreciate the help their mentors give
Over time, the mentor relationship will likely deepen and change affirming a richer friendship, while the mentee can in turn offer themselves as a mentor to a new employee.

Mutual Fulfilment
Healthy mentoring relationships do not last forever. The purpose of a mentor, as mentioned above, is to teach the mentee to think and act independently. When that has been developed the mentor is no longer needed. In fact, the greatest compliment that can be paid to a mentor is for a former protege to be recognised with a promotion or election to an office or position. At that point, the mentoring relationship has been fulfilled, and a new relationship begins.

If you don't have a mentor, find one. If you aren't a mentor, be one. It's that simple!

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