The History of Mentorship
Did you know that mentoring has been around since the times of ancient Greece? In Homer’s Odyssey, King Odysseus had a friend named ‘Mentor’ who watched over and provided guidance to his son, Telemachus. The word itself can be broken into ‘men’, which means ‘one who thinks’, and ‘tor’, the Greek masculine suffix. Another loose translation comes from the idea of ‘men’ taking children on ‘tour’.
Since then, traces of mentorship can be seen throughout history, with notable names such as Alexander the Great, who had Aristotle; King Arthur, who had Merlin; and Martin Luther King, who had Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays. However, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that mentorship gained real momentum as companies focused on new ways to develop and train their people, and individuals sought new ways to climb the career ladder regardless of status or other ‘societal’ disadvantages.
The Different Types of Mentorship
There are two overarching styles of mentoring, with many different types between them. The two styles are informal mentoring, which is a relationship that develops on it’s own due to circumstance, and formal mentoring, which has structure and support from a larger body or organisation. Both can be beneficial in different aspects of your life and indeed nowadays, it’s becoming more and more common to have multiple mentors.
Here are a few common types of mentors you can have.
Career Mentor: This type of mentor can help you with your career development, whether this means helping you to align personal and professional goals, broadening your network, up-skilling yourself, or even taking your career in a new direction. A career mentor can help you get back on track with what you want to do in your professional life and help you explore the different possibilities open to you.
Personal Mentor: A personal mentor can help you with issues such as relationship management and communication to things like self worth and actualisation. A personal mentor can promote healthy changes to the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of your life.
Reverse mentor: In the past, traditional mentoring relationships involved an older, more experienced person mentoring someone younger, with more to learn. However, these days, individual skill sets are valued regardless of age. A good example is a technology mentor, which can be someone from a younger generation mentoring someone from an older generation on technology use.
Business mentor. This type of mentor can be useful for entrepreneurs or those who have a great idea but may want to know more about pursuing a new venture before rushing in. With their experience and firsthand knowledge of starting a business, these mentors can be invaluable to those who wish to follow their footsteps.
Education mentor. An education mentor can aide those who are uncertain about which direction they should take their education in, as well as the steps to make that happen. Many lack the confidence to pursue their true interests and a mentor in this area can give you the confidence to follow your passion. In addition, education mentors can help with the transition once you’ve chosen a new path and are in pursuit.
Are you interested in mentoring or being mentored? This October myHRcareers will launch it’s first mentorship programme. Find out first hand the benefits of mentorship by registering your interest here.