How to be a Great Mentor

August 7, 2013

In this series of five essays, Kerry Ann Rockquemore provides advice on mentoring -perfect timing for the upcoming academic year. 

Starting Strong provides guidance on the things that set up a positive mentoring relationship, including the mentor taking time for personal introspection on what mentoring means. In the second piece: A New Model of Mentoring, the emphasis is on being part of a mentor network. This aligns with the theory and approach to the Lehigh ADVANCE Interdisciplinary Networking Committee Model of mentoring new faculty at Lehigh.  Rockquemore also challenges the reader to:

1. Sit with the new mentoring model and ask yourself how it feels to you. If you want to consider it more deeply, click here.       

2. If you have not yet contacted your new mentee to set up a mentoring meeting at the beginning of the fall term, do so ASAP. 
3. Consider filling out the Mentor Map [which aligns with Lehigh ADVANCE recommended Map] for yourself to get the experience of identifying YOUR areas of need and brainstorming on how to fill them.

The third essay explains the difference between Coach and Guru. The author provides six concrete examples of how a mentor would act differently wearing each hat.

1. Coaches are performance-driven. Gurus hope for the best.  

2. Coaches ask powerful questions. Gurus pontificate.          

3. Coaches are task oriented. Gurus are relationship oriented

4. Coaches are for transition moments. Gurus are forever.

5. Coaches rely on structure. Gurus rely on informality.

6. Coaches are other-focused. Gurus are self-focused

The fourth short article puts the first three dealing with building a positive relationship into the bigger picture.  How do you welcome a new faculty member?  What does that look like?  Read Cultivating Belonging and get some great tips.  Rockquemore's final essay, A Mentoring Manifesto, describes that because faculty are a university's greatest asset and the definition of success should include a balance of work and personal life, it is important that mentors understand that Productivity, Balance, and Joy Are Learned Habits, that Faculty Crave Community, Support, and Accountability (sink or swim is not healthy), and that a good mentor/mentoring program will Change the Conversation from

the limiting ("how can I win tenure?") to focusing on the meaning of work ("how can I work at my highest potential?"), from a stance of limitation ("how can I meet my department’s standards?") to  a stance of possibility (“what do I want?”), and from externally referential (“what can I do to please the senior faculty in my department?”) to internally driven (“what does success look like for me as a whole person?”).