defining mentorship


I define mentorship as a dynamic relational experience of trust that enables a mature person to nurture, train and empower another person to grow into his destiny by sharing God-given resources. Source: Nurturing Champions.

The critical aspects are that mentors release their God given resources e.g. their time,  occasionally their finances, wisdom and network of relationships to facilitate another person’s dream. In other words mentorship is not cheap labour whereby the mentor uses the protege (or mentee) for the fulfilment of the mentor’s dream. Mentorship is the other-person focused.

Mentorship involves nurturing and empowering the other person. It stands to reason therefore that true mentorship will result in an empowered protege who is not dependent on the mentors but who can think and express his/her own opinion confidently. A well mentored person should be able to move on past the mentoring relationship on his own and tackle life alone. He does not have to be eternally dependent on the mentor. As a matter of fact the relationship can transition from being mentor-protege to being peers and colleagues on an equal status.

Mentorship is a dynamic relationship which does not have set a formula but is dependent on the parties involved, their personalities and time and resource constraints. It follows that a mentor does not relate to all his/her proteges in the same way. Each mentoring relationship is tailored to suit the individuals involved.

The mentoring relationship is an experience for both the mentor and mentee. It is a relational issue with all the underlying dynamics to relationships requiring consideration. It cannot be a transactional experience where the protege seeks to get what he wants with no obligation to a relationship.

It is a relationship based on trust. Trust and confidentiality are critical for a beneficial mentoring relationship. Neither the mentor nor the protege should abuse information shared in confidence. Trust is earned and therefore this takes time.The strength of the relationship enables the training and empowerment of the protege.

Mentorship allows both the mentor and protege to grow as they learn from each other. It is a developmental process. Mentorship in the new economy does not include the “download” syndrome where the mentor is the source of all wisdom who downloads to an empty head of a protege which is ready to be filled. But mentorship is a an interactive learning and growth process for both mentor and protege. The mentor then serves as chief learner in the process.

By the word mature person in our definition we are not referring to age but to experience in the sphere of mentorship. In other words a younger person who is more experienced can mentor an older person. For example my 12year old daughter Faith, introduced me to and mentored me concerning the workings of Facebook as a social networking tool.

Pursue mentoring relationships for growth and impact.

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16 thoughts on “defining mentorship”

  1. You are best placed to write on mentorship because you have mentored a lot of people and as your family we have benefited greatly from a GREAT MENTOR. May your legacy outlast generations!!!!

  2. This is the best remedy to the challenges facing today’s world.The world today is faced with “download mentorship syndrome” where the protege is nothing but a stooge with nothing to teach. In this syndrome the protege is emptied further into something worse than an empty vessel. l appreciate you for giving a new therapy to treat and reverse this fiasco.You are indeed a great man lead us into greatness.

  3. This article takes away the misconception that mentorship is largely about me and me and what I can GIVE to you! It really does work best as you state “it is the other person focused”. I wonder if that is why the whole mentoring experience is difficult to run with???? One would think that if we took up mentors we would benefit by the learning curves and challenges my mentor would have already overcome! It is clear there are so many benefits to engaging in mentoring but am seriously baffled why we resist it, are we just hard headed? I am convinced this blog will unravel the mystery. Thanks Doc I will be following – getting mentored by you and passing it on to those who are willing to take the next step! On that vein I am sharing your link on my Facebook profile. Reforming people one Facebook friend at a time.

    1. Busi you are a star as usual. Yes mentoring is an experience with lots of challenges but its worth the effort. My people perish because of lack of knowledge. Sometimes we have the zeal to engage in mentorship but because we are not schooled in how to handle the pitfalls and challenges associated with it — people then get hurt and walk away from the discipline of nurturing each other. Iron sharpens iron as the Good Book says. Both are sharpened and changed in the process. Thank you for sharing the blog on your Facebook. Greatly appreciated. may your influence increase and be felt in the earth.

  4. “mentorship is not cheap labour whereby the mentor uses the protege (or mentee) for the fulfilment of the mentor’s dream.” Very True! however most organisations in Zimbabwe taking students on attachment or internship – which I think is also a form of mentorship – are yet to realise this truth!!!I have been attached to several organisations during my college years and have realised with your teaching that a lot could change if organisations applied the principles raised! How about starting a mentors circle for all HR Managers, Supervisors or personnel in Zim and changing the face of future generations and Zimbabwe?? I know you have a Champions Turf, so how about a Mentors Turf targeted to Human Resources personnel????

    1. Great idea Debs. Its worth pursuing. Locate for me an HR manager who is ready and willing to run with the vision and we will take a go at it. I have spoken to a few HR managers on this issue in seminars and they found it fascinating. Lets create the momentum and change our world.

  5. My first encounter with the subject of Mentorship was when you taught me in the Leadership Class close to 4 years ago.The way you taught it coupled with the many examples you then give in the book Nurturing Champions gave me a better perspective on the subject. You have mentored and continue to mentor many whether directly or indirectly. The seeds you have sown in the lives of leaders and entrepreneurs across the globe will surprise you. When harvest time comes we will not stand surprised because we saw you sowing in our own lives. May that selfless spirit resonate in all those who have been touched by your teachings. Congrats on launching the blog and I look forward to learning more. Keep the mentorship fire burning.

  6. Deep, this is really deep and exudes class and maturity “In that day the hearts of the fathers will return to the children” I beleive in this day and in means as this, this word is being fulfilled amazing how you can live for 22years and then log on to your machine to find a message that just changes your world in 5 minutes. Go on Doc this generation needs to hear this and we are crying out for Fathers who will pierce our hearts with a truth that spares our lives rather than the sooth saying message of the world that woes us to the Grave. Whatever God has set on your heart to do, do it and we will support you all the way Doc!!!!!!!!1

    1. Thanks Samuel. It has always been God’s wish that Fathers would mentor and raise the next generation of leaders. If in life, families, churches, organisations and nations, fathers take their responsibility seriously we would not have the challenges of the so-called “succession battles” that plague our world.

  7. Thank you Revo for sharing this with me.Wow,Dr Makoni,this is inspirational stuff.will also share it with a couple of friends.it is also my hope that all those who are in different positions of influence should understand mentorship in this sense.The world certainly becomes a better place with this kind of thinking.

  8. l think we all agree that this is a great piece of work by a great man.He is equipping us with the necessary tools to propel us into our respective destinies;he has deliberately put himself where the people are in order to build men and women who can make a real impact in society.With this in mind l would like our Dr to explain the differences between a relational and transactional relationship. Dr Makoni l see that you also talk of the thorny issue of succession in organisations,nations etc.How can effective mentorship lead to eradication of these plagues?Can mentorship promote proper succession plans that promote success and access to growth in organizations?

    1. Great questions Revo. A transactional mentorship arrangement is where one does not see the relational aspect of the process. For example if you go to a shop and pay for a service — you do not necessarily need to be relational with the supplier of services. You pay — he delivers. Case closed. That is a transaction. But better business requires a relational process where the customer is treated as a friend and a relationship is formed. Hence customer relationship and customer intimacy are advocated in today’s business world.Taking this analogy to mentorship a transactional mentoring process simply means we have an agreement where the mentor deposits information and counsel to the “protege” – with no relational underpinning. There is no need for trust and for managing the relationship. You give me what I need and I move on. And yet the relational aspect is the one that allows candour, honesty and trust within the mentoring process.
      The answer to the second question as to succession is that God’s principle is that the current generation of leaders is responsible for mentoring and grooming their successors. Elijah prepares and mentors Elisha. Moses mentors Joshua. Samuel mentors David. Paul mentors Timothy. Barnabas mentors Paul. Jesus Christ mentors the twelve apostles. In the business realm see how Jack Welch mentored and prepared his successor at General Electric. Check the track record of the succession transition and also the effective leadership of the mentored leaders as they take the baton. Watch this space we shall discuss leadership succession and mentorship in another posting. Definitely mentorship allows for good succession planning.

  9. You describe the transactional relationship in a way that transports a great deal of knowledge to us.You relate the relational relationship in a way that makes one want to be friends with you,in short you drove the point home Dr Makoni.You have stretched our minds with new ideas and we will never be the same.

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