Mentoring Roles in Leadership Development

8 August 2016

Introduction Leaders are considered as the significant aspect in communities or organizations. The impact of leaders can lead organizations to the success or adversely to the failure in achieving their goals. Many perspectives on this theme had created comprehensive understanding and may be used in many different contexts. The meaning of leader and leadership and other debatable issues associated in its construct should be understood in its context and perspective.

Definition of leadership in this topic will focus on knowledge, skills, abilities and traits of the leader in the process of influencing other people or followers to do what the leader want. This definition is proposed by Barker (1997) in possibilities of leadership training which define leadership and management in the same way. To focus on the leadership as a management function is more rationalistic but it is more possible to adapt in organizational practices.

In their act to lead or their behaviors to influence other people in organization, leaders have their own values and styles which are different from one another and to be owned originally. These values and styles are shaped by many factors along developmental process. In the process to become a leader, a person is influenced by many agencies, i. e. : parents, families, friends, colleges, educations, experiences, etc. Those agencies interact in complicated ways and shape leadership values and styles.

One important agency is mentor which is a person who plays a role as guru, coach, model in the process of learning become leaders. Mentor-protege existence is recorded since the old history and has varied interpretations in its practices. However, mentor-protege relationship is proved as a useful method for leaders to develop their leadership role. Mentoring as a means in organization has attracted many researches to study its role and dynamic since it is used to increase personal ability and in the end is hoped can give optimum benefits to organizations.

There are many views about the role of mentoring in organizations based on the findings. Even though there are skeptical views about the role of mentoring in organization, I believe that mentoring in a broad definition is a very useful method and should be implemented properly to get its benefits. In the effort to get the clearer insight about mentor-protege phenomena, I will begin with explaining mentor and protege definition, aspects involved in the relationship, benefits of mentor-protege relationship, barrier of a successful relationship, other effects in relationship,and model in mentorship.

In the last part, I try to look out relevancy of mentoring in the current organizational context. Definition of Mentorship To have comprehensive understanding about mentor we need to know the root of its word and how this term uses in many fields. There are many definition and debatable issues associated in this definition. However, I suggest to give the meaning of mentor-protege based on its root in mythology. History of Mentor The concept of mentoring can be traced from Greek mythology.

In Odyssey of Odysseus, Mentor was the faithful companion of Odysseus, King of Ithaca who took an important role for Telemachus, Odysseus’s son, when the King went off to the Trojan wars. Mentor’s duty was to raise Telemachus and prepare him as the successor of Odyssey. According to Samier (2000,p. 85), based on Odyssey story, there are three fundamental roles in mentoring: guardian, guide, and counselor. While Carruthers (1993,p. 9) explain that in this story, Mentor had a role as a father figure, a teacher, a role model, an approachable counsellor, a trusted adviser, a challenger, an encourager to Telemachus.

Carruthers also add the figure with Athene, also from Greek mythology, who sometimes is assumed the form of mentor and acted as mother figure and wisdom. On the other hand, protective aspect of the role Mentor has raised the word “protege”, come from French verb, proteger means to protect. This word is used to a person who receives mentor interest. Mentor-protege relationships have become a pattern of learning or play a significant factor in development of successful persons along centuries. Head and Gray gave a list of famous persons with mentor-protege relationship from Sir Thomas More

until Michael Jackson (Carruthers,1993). This role of Mentor to help Odyssey’s successor in his developmental phase is used in many fields and sometimes in very simple ways. In this discussion, we focus on leadership in organization that needs understanding in integration of intellectual and emotional capabilities of individual. Mentor Concept Although the concept of mentor is real along history and seems simple and easy to understand, in the process of determine a definition, there are many varied views come from many authors.

Carruthers(1993) explained a range of definition, from brief definition in Webster Universal Dictionary, ‘mentor is counsellor, wise and prudent adviser’ and Carmin’s comprehensive definition of mentor, ‘mentoring is a complex, interactive process occurring between individuals of differing levels of experience and expertise which incorporates interpersonal or psychosocial development, career and/or educational development, and socialization functions into the relationship.

To have a guide for this ‘mentor’ term, Carruthers(1993) proposed that most mentor interpretations can be devided into two categories: the first is which emphasise the professional development only, the second is which emphasise professional and personal development of the protege. In other field, term of mentor also used broadly and there are many debatable issues associated with mentor activity. Wood (1997,p.27) explain mentor happened in Mentor story is the idea of a senior or older person who pay attention to a younger person and acting as an advisor and guide. She also claims that the idea of mentoring in the business world is happened when a junior employee assigned a more senior adviser to help them develop their career. Samier (2000) states that values and interpretations of mentorship are depend on one’s disposition in humanistic or positivistic direction.

In his view, mentorship program can be seen as a reaction to the negative effect of modernization which produces alienation in social relation. To study mentoring, it will need phenomenological and hermeneutic perspectives because the subject is interpersonal relationship in professional development which is subjective, symbolic and context-dependent experiences. Mentorship also is seen as a means of addressing equity problems by supporting women and minorities.

His view of practical use of mentoring also found in organization, to be function as an innovative means of supporting conventional organizational goals and practices by offering a technique for coping with change. Aspects involved in Mentor Concept Samier (2000,p. 85) state that to construct a comprehensive and clear conceptual framework of mentoring, we need to look its role definition, characteristic of actors, character of relationship and typical phases/stages.

These mentoring criteria consist of: Mentoring is a multifaceted and complex role consisting of interventionist, training, and supportive activities; mentors are older, more senior, and at the same workplace or in the same profession; the relationship is personally and affectively grounded, and governed by ethical requirements of voluntarism and mutuality, therefore not reducible to quantifiable measures; and it is a relationship which requires a minimum of two years, and in most cases three to five years, evolve.

To fulfill their roles as mentor and protege, there are a number criteria or qualifying characteristics which organized by Samier(2000,p. 88) into organizational status, professional and personal qualities. In organizational status, according to Missirians’s study (1982, in Samier, 2000) mentors are seen as brilliant, charismatic,physically attractive, boundlessly energetic, innovative, and inspiring. While in professional qualities, mentors are seen have the ability to evaluate and apply technical knowledge and skill to the setting through divergent thinking (Schon,in Samier,2000).

Come to personal qualities, it is include a broad range of intellectual, social and emotional traits. Anderson and Shannon (1988 in Samier,2000) propose essential dispositions in mentoring which are opening to their protege, leading incrementally and to show that care and concern to personal and professional welfare. On the other hand, proteges must be able to understand and accept their mentors in emotional, intellectual and social ways. Zey (1984 in Samier,2000) identified qualities of proteges that attract mentor which are competence, a desire to learn, initiative,intelligence, ambition, desire and ability to accept power and risk, loyalty, ability to establish alliances, and organizational savvy. Character of the relationship in mentor-protege relationship is perceived as a private, dynamic and mutually transformative relationship which is showed by trust of each other. (Samier,2000). Those Samier’s conceptual framework of Mentor is proposed to give a guidance to understand mentorship and how to adopt it in organizational strategy.

Functions of mentoring relationship as propose by Ragins(1989,p. 2), explain aspects which are training and inside information on the organization and its political function, role of mentor as a counselor, friend, role model and coach, and buffer between organization by running interference for the protege and providing special access to information, contacts and resources. Benefits of Mentor-protege Relationship Considering its broad impact, mentor is hoped to assist his protege in professional and personal development.

As defined by Philips-Jones in Carruthers (1997), ‘mentors are influential people who significantly help you to reach your major life goals’. Whitely (1993) finding in his study that career mentoring is particularly related to early career promotion histories, to general work satisfaction and career satisfaction. Bolam,McMahon,Pocklington & Weindling (1995) report their study on a national pilot scheme for mentoring new headteachers in England and Wales.

The result of this study, the proteges mentioned benefits: help with problems, help to give meaning in their new position, reduce the isolation, obtaining another perspective and improving self confidence. On the other hand, mentors also mentioned benefits they get from relationship which are extending their professional experience, encouraging them to engage in reflective self-analysis, experience of sharing and helping others, acting as a sounding board, hearing alternative views about professional issues.

Other view which emphasise the importance of relationship is come from Kram & Isabella (1985). They stated that both parties involved in mentor-protege benefit from the relationship. In the process of mentoring, mentors provide young adult with career-enhancing function and psychosocial support while gain technical and psychological support, gain internal satisfaction and respect from colleagues. From a number of functions in mentoring relationship, proteges gain upward mobility in organization.

Thus, mentoring relationships have been found as a significant factors in career development, organizational success and career satisfaction (Ragins,1989). Alleman (in Carruthers, 1993) identified organizational benefits from mentor-proteges relationship which are increased productivity by both partners, better assessments, improved management and technical skills, discovered latent talent, refined leadership qualities, improved performance, and better recruitment and retention of skilled staff.

Clearly, benefits in mentor-proteges relationship in organizational context have a strong association in leadership. First, from proteges point of view, to experience guidance from their mentor has given them insight to behave properly or to use appropriate leadership style in many situation. It is integrated in their developmental process to gain heir own identity as a leader. Secondly, from mentors point of view, the relationship also add their capabilities as leaders, in this case their ability to develop other people.

Other Effects in Relationship Meanwhile, on individual levels mentor-proteges relationship also becomes sources of tension and conflict. Braun (1990 in Samier 2000) states that these tension and conflict vary from peers feeling that the protege has acquired illegitimate advantage, to colleagues not approving of the mentor’s choice in protege, to colleagues and significant others in both the mentor and protege’s lives becoming suspicious in gender different pairing.

Beside those inter personal conflict between mentor or protege and people around them, proteges should experience social and professional isolation because special assignments and extra works from those relationship (Missirian,1982 in Samier,2000). Carruters (1993) describes disadvantages in mentor-protege relationship: elitism or jealousy in mentor and protege peers, the Matthew effect which is increases the existing gap, the Salieri phenomenon when a mentor prevents his protege’s outstanding work, spouse jealousy especially if it is involved different gender, and mentor can perceived his protege as a professional threat.

Baum (1992) who examined the literature on mentoring from psychoanalytic perspective, state that proteges and mentors also bring fantastic meaning unconsciously. In his view, proteges transfer their affection and identify with mentors. In my opinion, this transfer is one of failure in mentoring process because its not reach self autonomy of proteges but otherwise let proteges in dependent relationship with their mentor. Actually, those disadvantages could be diminished with cautious preparation to its model or the way mentoring program is conducted.

Barriers in Mentor-protege Relationship Despite of its promising benefits, there are several factors in mentor-protege relationship that inhibit the process of successful relationship. Samier (2000) suggest that context on organizational level which are culture, systems, size and structure may not be conducive to mentoring. It says that bureaucratic environment often cause mentors and proteges have to engage in covert activities.

Zey (1984 in Samier, 2000) found problems in a mentor-protege program which is not explain the purpose to mentors, different view of corporate culture, participants are coerced, poor evaluation process, inadequate contact with mentors and lack of choice in selecting mentors. Mentor-protege relationship is time and energy consuming. It is understandable to find failure in mentoring programs because the lack of support for this program. However, to take this failure as the reason for justify unimportance of the program is immature. Model for Mentorship Program

Samier (2000) proposed comprehensive model in planned mentorship program derived from Andrew(1986), Zey(1984), and Murray (1991) which are: Establish clear goals and a program design which meets existing organizational and training and development needs, including staffing plans to absorb graduates; establish criteria and a process for selecting mentors and proteges; advertise, solicit participation, and screen applicants plus enlist cooperation of entire organization; provide initial orientation and ensure commitment; monitor, counsel and assist during mentoring and evaluate the outcomes of the program and provide information for adjustment.

Considering a model for mentor-protege program, Carruthers(1993) stated that mentoring as a dynamic process needs to try and fit many different ways. In his view, mentoring may summarized as follows: Mutual choice is advocated; the relationship extends beyond professional interest; there is no evidence of threat, there is mutual need; there is little evidence in the literature that mentoring has disadvantage for the proteges; there is evidence of affection and trust. Model is important to give the rough way how mentoring program should be implemented.

As we realize its multifaceted, mentor concept needs to be clearly understood before it take into practice. Mentoring in the Changing Organization Since its practice as a learning process for leadership preparation in Greek mythology until its practical use in human resources management in organization, mentor concept is still relevant to be implemented as organizational tools. However, we should consider other factor such us organizational changing to implement it properly in many different situation.

Kram & Higgins (2002) proposed that there are four significant changes in nature of career: “boundaryless” model of work environment, changing nature of technology, organizational structures and membership. Those changes have changed the nature of mentoring relationships today and particularly emerge increasing variance from which individuals get mentoring support. Also in the same point of view, Kram & Isabella (1985) started to give alternatives for mentoring with peer relationship, and Keele (1986) proposed networking.

Those alternatives and awareness of changing environment in organisation should be considered as enrichment in understanding mentorship role in the process of leadership learning. Conclusion Mentoring as a means in organization has attracted many researches to study its role and dynamic since it is used to increase personal ability and in the end is hoped can give optimum benefits to organizations. There are many views about the role of mentoring in organizations based on the findings.

Based on its function, mentor still play a crucial role in the process becoming a leader. There are functions played by mentor-protege relationship which give meaningful progress in individual development. In this relationship, interpersonal or psychosocial development, career and/or educational development happened as the result of interactive process between mentor and protege. Benefits in mentor-proteges relationship in organizational context have a strong association in leadership.

First, from proteges point of view, to experience guidance from their mentor has given them insight to behave properly or to use appropriate leadership style in many situation. It is integrated in their developmental process to gain heir own identity as a leader. Secondly, from mentors point of view, the relationship also add their capabilities as leaders, in this case their ability to develop other people. All those benefits emphasize the role of mentoring in leadership which is taking a central role to direct the organization into its success.

Mentor program as one of organizations effort to adapt this relationship pattern to maximize personnel development in leadership learning should be implemented carefully. Those to be concerned are: conceptual framework of mentoring, where we need to look its role definition, characteristic of actors, character of relationship and typical phases/stages. Besides that administrator or actors in mentoring program should pay attention to potential effect in relationship and barriers in successful mentoring relationship.

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