mentorship model


Any champion in the making needs at least to be in four mentoring relationships namely an upward mentor, downward mentor, internal peer mentor and external peer mentor. Lets discuss these in detail.

An upward mentor is someone you look up to because he has excelled and distinguished himself in your chosen field. He has expertise or wisdom due to experience and maturity and you want to tap into his tacit knowledge. He may be a coach or a sponsor – somebody who has done what you aspire to and you look up to him. In an organizational or professional setting, this will be a person senior to you. His wisdom and expertise adds value to the emerging leader as he offers perspective gained from years of excelling in the field. Within my dental field I was privileged to work with an astute dentist, the late Bill Sylow. Bill shaped my view of dentistry. I looked up to him and learned a lot about practice management. I learned both what to do and what not to do. It is important for emerging champions to learn from the successes of their mentor as well as from their failures.

One of my mentors is continually in a quest to expand his capacity by seeking out new mentors depending on his current ministry focus. He currently pastors a church of about ten thousand but is aiming at pastoring hundreds of thousands. He has thus chosen to learn from Pastor Chris Oyakhilome who has a worldwide ministry and pastors a church of over two million. This upward mentoring expands his competences and widens his vision.

Downward mentoring refers to someone you are currently mentoring. This implies that while you are being mentored you in turn mentor someone else. When you mentor and teach others, you learn and grow. As someone so aptly puts it, “A teacher has not taught until the pupil has learnt and taught someone else.” Begin to impart to others what you have learnt, it increases your learning skills while multiplying your influence. I believe that emerging champions even while still being nurtured should nurture others as well. From the biblical record Barnabas nurtured Paul who nurtured Timothy. In turn Timothy was required to nurture faithful men who would be able to teach others also.

Internal peer co-mentoring refers to people within the same age group, same organization/profession influencing each other. The biblical David and Jonathan were peers who sharpened each other to fulfil their destinies. These are people who share same values and similar aspirations. Dr Matthew Wazara has been a peer mentor to me. We meet often to talk, plan, pray and sharpen each other. His influence has made a huge difference in my life. I am amazed at his intensity and perseverance in pursuing his God given dream in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Matthew has paid a heavy price in business but still pursues his dream with an unbelievable tenacity and passion. The world is yet to hear from this young man. He is destined for great things and I believe that he will change the face of healthcare service provision in this nation and beyond.

Champions in the making also need peer- mentors from outside their frame of reference. These are people who are either outside their profession or organizations. There are some weaknesses that can crop up without you noticing and if all your mentoring relationships are internal you may lose the balance. An external co-peer mentor challenges your routines, assumptions, beliefs and worldview. This brings balance. You don’t need all your mentoring relationships to just be from your church.  If you are a professional you don’t need all your mentors to be in one organisation because sometimes you develop groupthink.  So co-peer mentoring will allow people from outside to challenge why you do what you do. One of the strengths of Tom Deuschle as a pastor is that he has developed a circle of mentors who do not necessarily belong to the same church movement. Some of his mentors are diametrical opposites in personality and style and life philosophy. This has brought tremendous balance to his life and ministry.

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13 thoughts on “mentorship model”

  1. I especially enjoyed the part about internal and external co-mentoring. It gives acknowledgement to the benefits derived from engaging in dialogue and relationships with people that are relatively at the same level of development in the field of choice of the mentee.
    I have a friend who has the ability to ask me the oddest questions at times, the question “why?”, this always causes me to go back to the drawing board and really THINK if I am doing things properly, sometimes I am sometimes I wont be, but co-mentors with a strong sense of direction’s insight I have found to be extremely useful. Though it is very neccessary to look out for the wrong advice as they are usually also relatively newer work in progress.

  2. I especially enjoyed the part about internal and external co-mentoring. It gives acknowledgement to the benefits derived from engaging in dialogue and relationships with people that are relatively at the same level of development in the field of choice of the mentee.
    I have a friend who has the ability to ask me the oddest questions at times, the question “why?”, this always causes me to go back to the drawing board and really THINK if I am doing things properly, sometimes I am sometimes I wont be, but co-mentors with a strong sense of direction’s insight I have found to be extremely useful. Though it is very neccessary to look out for the wrong advice as they are usually also relatively newer work in progress.
    How interesting

  3. It is nice to know my father is still fondly remembered by those he worked with! It is warming that 5 years after his passing he is still alive in the minds of others.

    – Bill Sylow’s daughter, Cicely Sylow

    1. Thanks Cicely. Your father did greatly influence me and mentored me into the practical business aspects of dentistry. His passing on was a significant loss to dentistry. Trust you are well. May you be an influence on others as well.

    2. Hi Cicely
      I don’t know if you remember me, Steve Jennings, I would love to catch. Up with you and remember your Dad, a friend I miss a lot!

  4. @mentorship model .. my name is Susan Grave .. husband is also a dentist and we’d known Bill for umpteen years. Just been talking about him on the patio whilst enjoying a lovely rainy African evening & thought I’d try to find him on Facebook. Sorry to see you reference to ‘late Bill Sylow’. Would you kindly let us know what happened. We were in contact for many years, particularly when he lived in KZN.

  5. Ah, Bill certainly had his faults, a real ‘Walter Mitty’. Very charming & there were many times I used to have to tell him to get off the phone or pay the bill. Can’t comment about the misdemeanours in Zim – had heard about them. Did he really marry a Scandivanian diplomat and live in Switzerland.

    1. I have deleted the comments from the unidentified contributor because this blog respects the people that it mentions. Bill was human and made mistakes but he still was a brilliant dental practitioner. i do not wish to comment on his personal weaknesses (if any) primarily because its unfair since there is no right of response.
      I believe he did remarry and lived in Switzerland. But I stand corrected.

      1. I am pleased that some people do respect the memory of my late husband and remember him for his joy and laughter and vitality, as well as for his professionalism. Thank you Dr. Makoni. I had the great privilege of sharing some wonderful and fun years with William and his kids. We lived both in Switzerland and in Norway, and he died a much loved and very happy man. He always carried a sense of sadness about the developments in Zimbabwe as well as the lack of justice there. We both felt sorry for the (courageously anonymous)people who continue to be bitter about the past and expose their vulgarity and pettiness year after year. What a sad way to live.

  6. Morning Ingrid,
    Nice to read your comments about Bill. My husband, also a dentist, met Bill in mid 1971 when going to work in Salisbury for Dr Skinner.
    I remember lots of fun times with Bill, particularly when he liked to visit us. We also came to know the 5 children.
    Got to find time to write a note about one ‘expedition’ he made in early 80s .. he was retrieving a dog and also taking some seeds back to the farm in Borrowdale.
    It is sad that people continue to ‘thrive’ on bitterness – it only gnaws away at them.

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