Mentoring and Self Leadership

28/05/2020 2 By indiafreenotes

Mentoring is a system of semi-structured guidance whereby one person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives and careers. Mentors need to be readily accessible and prepared to offer help as the need arises within agreed bounds.

Mentors very often have their own mentors, and in turn their mentees might wish to ‘put something back’ and become mentors themselves it’s a chain for ‘passing on’ good practice so that the benefits can be widely spread.

Mentoring can be a short-term arrangement until the original reason for the partnership is fulfilled (or ceases), or it can last many years.

Mentoring is more than ‘giving advice’, or passing on what your experience was in a particular area or situation. It’s about motivating and empowering the other person to identify their own issues and goals, and helping them to find ways of resolving or reaching them not by doing it for them, or expecting them to ‘do it the way I did it’, but by understanding and respecting different ways of working.

Mentoring is not counselling or therapy though the mentor may help the mentee to access more specialized avenues of help if it becomes apparent that this would be the best way forward.

What do Mentors do?

Mentors listen objectively and act as a sounding board. They ask questions that encourage mentees to look at issues from a variety of perspectives and focus on problem-solving, decision-making and solutions. They challenge traditional ways of thinking and encourage strategies outside of their mentee’s comfort zone.

Mentors can prepare their mentees for professional careers and assist with their workplace skills. They raise the bar regarding a mentee’s potential and provide guidance, support, encouragement and constructive feedback.

What is the impact of Mentoring?

Mentoring can make a profound difference to the lives of mentees, and in turn strengthen our communities, economy and country.

The consistent, enduring presence of a caring adult in a young person’s life can be the difference between staying in school or dropping out, making healthy decisions or engaging in risky behaviours and between realising one’s potential or failing to achieve one’s dreams.

Young people with mentors, especially at-risk youth, have more positive visions of themselves and their futures. They also achieve more positive outcomes in school, the workplace and their communities.


‘Self-mentoring’ is a process which requires you to assemble a realistic, accurate assessment of yourself (strengths and weaknesses) with the goal of crafting your ‘ideal self’ to heighten job performance, career progression, or personal ambitions. This practice, suitable for any age, profession, gender, race, or ability, is a four-stage framework which includes: self-awareness, self-development, self-reflection, and self-monitoring.

The term self-mentoring is a registered trademark and owned by the author. You cannot own a copyright on a registered trademark.

The goal of self-mentoring is to more effectively marshal one’s strengths and maintain direction through the inevitable ups and downs of moving forward in ones life and career.  More than simply a mindset, self-mentoring is an integrated set of strategies and skills that will help you at any age or stage in life be more insightful, proactive and creative in navigating change and moving forward in whatever area(s) of your life you choose.

Self-mentoring skills, concepts and insights work by both complementing and enhancing the essential skills that all of us rely on to be effective in our chosen profession: leading, selling, listening, decision-making, motivating, creative thinking and problem-solving, just to name a few. 

The benefits of using methods in self-mentoring when acclimating to new positions are abundant. This is especially true in the university setting. Academic professions are often self-directed within the domains of performance guidelines, review procedures, and promotion decisions employed by the university. Research suggests there is heightened self-esteem and self-efficacy with the application of self-mentoring practices. This, in turn, enhances connection and commitment to the institution.

To understand ways an individual can adapt to and apply self-mentoring skills, the following personal example illustrates this process. This case involves an instructor in higher education.

The detailed concept of self-mentoring (with all 4 levels embedded) was born as a result of a superintendent’s adversities transitioning into higher education position. She found her new work at a university overwhelming as a disconnect persisted between her and her assigned mentor. While her mentor was more than proficient in ability and expertise, their mentor/mentee relationship struggled and wasn’t serving its purpose. Through the complexity of this experience, self-mentoring evolved as a tool the faculty member clung to and crafted in order to survive her new role.

In developing the process of self-mentoring, the new employee drew upon her innate as well as learned leadership skills and competencies. She established a plan for survival that involved setting expectations, forming strategies, gathering and analyzing data, networking, and monitoring progress. Pleased with her success at the end her first year, she continued her job and more importantly began sharing her methods she fittingly named, ‘self-mentoring’. The basic tenet leading this concept is ‘You are your own best mentor’ (Bond & Hargreaves, 2014). Kimberly Horn (2013) explains there will always be times in one’s career when the right mentor-mentee match simply doesn’t happen. This is when self-mentoring becomes the perfect option for acclimating to the change(s) and growing personally and professionally as a result.

For this retired superintendent, the shift into a role of university practitioner was met with obstacles she surmounted through the process of self-mentoring. After the creation and follow-through of this practice, this professor was honored with three prestigious academic awards. Self-mentoring has now moved beyond the field of education and impacted weight loss programs, student leadership, mentoring, and executive coaching experiences.

Self Leadership

Self-led people mostly take their own decisions and set personal targets. This ability is typical of entrepreneurs, mentors, top managers etc.

We say a person has self-leadership skills when he has foresight, makes the right decisions and choices on his own, and exhibits dedication towards achieving his goals.

Aside goal setting, self-awareness is another factor that helps make people great self-leaders. Every manager must possess self-leadership skills.

Importance of self-leadership

Self-leadership is the first stage or level of leadership. For employees, whether mangers or ordinary subordinates, self-leadership is of great importance.

As a manager, you receive very little or no supervision. This means you should be able to plan and set your objectives on your own, as well as influence your own self to follow those plans.

As lower level employee, you can never be sure the kind of management or leaders you will meet in the course of tour career. Despite whatever leadership you may come across whether laissez faire, democratic or autocratic you should be able to exhibit self-leadership. Employers like workers who can take great decisions on their own and are able to influence themselves to work effectively.

Self-leadership helps make the individual proactive, disciplined, and an independent decision maker. People who have no strong sense of self-leadership tend to feel they are not in control of themselves, often lack focus and get overwhelmed easily.

How to improve on self-leadership

Self-leadership is indisputably a lovable skill. Here are four tips that should help you improve on self-leadership skills.

  • Clarity of purpose. Every leadership or leader has a vision. Being your own leader, your purpose or vision will be the foundation upon which you will build self-leadership. Without properly scripted objectives or purpose for your life, you will be at peril trying to follow people’s plans or ideas for your life and you end up stuck in the middle of nowhere.
  • Aim at success and take reasonable risks. Risk taking is an essential aspect of life. Challenge yourself to take on daring projects. Don’t discourage yourself with past failures of yourself or others focus on success. However, they should be reasonably calculated risks that are relevant to your purpose.
  • Spend time to reflect on your life. While you remain the active doer of the things you do, you may see things from your perspective only. Take some time off to reflect on your life compare the past to the present and the present to future goals. Until you take a break to analyze yourself, you may never identify certain petty shortcomings. Reflections can also mean allowing someone to make an objective assessment of you.
  • Don’t tolerate just anything. You cannot put your vision at risk.  You should learn to be intolerant of any suggestion or ideas which are not in line with your vision. This intolerance is not towards others only but yourself too. It includes not tolerating negative aspects of your nature such as laziness, fear, timidity etc.