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A Model for Strengthening Mentors: Frames and Practices

adults having a conversation by a computer

The extensive body of literature on mentoring has largely ignored the developmental needs of mentors themselves. This conceptual and practice-oriented paper asks mentors and others to consider the needs of mentors who may or may not arrive ready to deal with the challenges of being effective mentors. The authors ask: how should mentors think about their own growth and development? Drawing on a broad spectrum of academic literatures, three frames are proposed for guiding mentors’ thinking about themselves and four practices to spur their continuous improvement. We conclude by offering the benefits and challenges as mentors engage in the difficult work of acquiring in-depth self-awareness.

A focus on the development and support of mentors is essential to benefit them, their mentees, and their organizations. A thoughtful understanding about how to create practices, policies, and spaces that nurture mentors mark a forward-thinking perspective that will be essential as we continue to see change across organizations, labor markets, and nations.