Mentoring: Is it time to Re-Evaluate and Re-Imagine?

For over three-plus decades, I have mentored women and one male law student. My title, the authority it conveyed, and my experience, were all that it seemed I needed to develop a mutual relationship of respect. I loved mentoring and assumed that since my mentees stayed in the arrangement, they were learning and found it beneficial.

Today, this baby boomer is reminded of Bob Dylan’s song “The Times They Are A Changin…” I reached out to female millennials and Gen Z’s, as to their thoughts and feelings on the value of mentoring. I now realize it may be time to re-evaluate and re-imagine mentoring.

Here is just a sample of what I heard and learned! Time is needed to develop trust between the mentor and mentee. Both parties must show mutual vulnerability. It is more important to have role models than mentors. We want to be engaged and need human interaction; we want more of an experience. Mentors need to give their time and energy. Mentoring has to feel authentic and not transactional. Mentoring should be considered an ROI (return on investment) for one’s career.

The word mentoring may be tired or old, but is the concept valid? Does the structure or nature of the mentor-mentee relationship need to be changed? Author Tara Mohr, in Playing Big says “Women are enjoined again and again to seek external resources to help their careers, but they aren’t encouraged as frequently to trust their own instincts and find answers inside. As part of this, women are endlessly told to seek “outer” mentors-other people who can show us the way, make connections and give us advice.” Is she right or wrong?

It is worth your time to read an article co-authored by two women I mentored decades ago. Both are terrific, professionally successful women whom I am proud to call my friends. Linda Carlozzi is a Principal at the law firm Jackson Lewis, P.C. and Lisa Regnante is a Digital Marketing Manager. I mentored Linda when she was in law school and Lisa when she was in college.

What resonated when reading their reflections on their mentoring experience is that what they observed and implicitly conveyed was remembered far more than any direct guidance or advice I gave.

Enjoy the read! I did. Mentoring deserves an inter-generational conversation?