Do You Have A Mentor?

A mentor is a trusted counselor, a wise, loyal, and supportive guide, an adviser, or a coach.
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Mentoring in Berlin


Almost every successful leader had a mentor. What is important to keep in mind, what makes a good mentor? Learn how a mentor can support you.

What is a mentor?


A mentor is a trustworthy consultant, a clever, loyal and supportive companion, a consultant, trainer or coach. Ideally, a mentor is also a role model and confidant. He has gained relevant practical experience.

This is usually a kind of sponsorship between a young, promising executive (the mentee) and an experienced manager (the mentor). For this working relationship to work, there must be complete trust between the partners involved. Also, the mentee must be willing to accept suggestions and deal constructively with feedback. Mentors also point out risks and potentials if they want to promote their protégés. And do you also have a mentor?




Do you have a mentor?


You benefit from a mentor because he or she can provide you with the experience of many years within a short period. Mentees learn what the mentor has experienced and done and how it worked for him. This saves you detours, time and effort because you can learn from his mistakes and successes and do not have to make unnecessary mistakes.


Typical functions of a mentor:

  • He offers the mentee insights into an area.
  • Promotes the necessary skills.
  • He incorporates both elements of coaching and counseling.
  • Supports mentee development by sharing experiences, resources, and networks.
  • Encouragement to leave the comfort zone and develop further.
  • The mentor encourages one to think for oneself.
  • He provides constructive feedback.


That sounds too good to be true? Almost every successful personality had a mentor who played an important role.




Which success can be achieved all by itself?


Almost every successful executive can refer to a mentor who has played an important role. There are many examples of how important a mentor can be. The term “mentor” comes from The Odyssey. Odysseus asked his friend Mentor to watch over his son Telemachus while Odysseus was in the Trojan War. Mentorship existed long before Socrates cared for Plato, who cared for Aristotle, who cared for Alexander the Great.

I greatly appreciate the experienced support. If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t be here today. The guidance I have received from experienced men and women has made an enormous positive difference in my life. Intelligence is learning from experience and I don’t have to make every mistake myself. Others have encountered problems, made mistakes and learned from them.

Search for role models you can look up to and people who are interested in you. If we just take the time to ask them, they often like to share what they have learned.

In mentoring, the immediate supervisor is indirectly involved. Although she or he can make suggestions to the employee on how best to use the mentoring experience, the supervisor has no connection to the mentor, and they do not communicate at all during the mentoring relationship. This helps maintain the integrity of the mentoring relationship.

Mentoring programs have been popular for some time and differ from classical coaching.




The differences between mentoring and coaching



Coaching (and training)


Coaching and training are more task-oriented. The focus is on concrete topics such as more effective management, targeted and effective communication and strategic thinking. This requires an expert who can teach the coachee how to develop these skills.

A coach can work successfully with a coachee for a short time, perhaps only for a few sessions. Coaching lasts as long as necessary, depending on the purpose of the coaching relationship.

Business coaching aims to improve an individual’s performance in the workplace. The aim is either to improve existing skills or to acquire new skills. Once the coachee has successfully acquired the skills, the coach is no longer needed.

Coaching can be done on nearly any topic almost immediately. When a company tries to coach a large group of individuals, there is certainly a lot of design involved in determining the competence field, the expertise required and the assessment tools used, but this does not necessarily require a long lead time to implement the coaching program.

The superior of the coachee can be a critical partner in coaching. He or she often gives the coach feedback on areas where his or her employee needs coaching. The coach, on the other hand, does not reveal any details from the coaching.







Mentoring is more relationship-oriented. It aims to create a safe environment in which the mentor shares all the issues that affect his or her professional and personal success. Although specific learning goals or competencies can be used as a basis for building the relationship, the focus goes beyond these areas and includes things like work and life balance, self-confidence, self-awareness and how personal life affects the job.

Mentoring takes time to succeed. It takes time for both partners to learn from each other and create a climate of trust that creates an environment in which the mentee feels safe to share the real problems that affect his or her success. Successful mentoring relationships often last from nine months to one year.

The goal of mentoring is to support the individual not only for the current job but also for the future. This also distinguishes the role of the immediate superior from that of the mentor.

Mentoring requires a preparatory phase to determine the strategic purpose of mentoring, the form and focus of the relationship, collaboration, and specific components.




When to consider coaching and when mentoring?


What all types of coaching and mentoring have in common is that they provide a tool for analysis, reflection, and action that makes it possible to be successful in a field.




When to consider coaching



  • When it comes to the development of specific competences.
  • To learn how to deal with a new role.
  • When talented people want to work on a topic because they do not meet their expectations or those of the company.


Here you will find further examples of the application of coaching.




When to consider mentoring



  • When a company is seeking to develop its leaders or talent pool as part of succession planning
  • The long-term process to remove barriers that hinder success
  • Access to the network of the mentor is helpful


Just ask me personally


Please post any questions that may interest other readers in the comments. Are you looking for professional support?

If you are interested in coaching, training, or consulting, for organizational questions and to make an appointment, you can reach me best by e-mail ( You can reach me by telephone at +49(0)30 864 213 68 and mobile phone at +49(0)1577 704 53 56 from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to 18:00. Most of the time I am in sessions, so please leave a message with your phone number in Germany, then. Please remember to be very specific about the reason for your call. I will call you back as soon as possible. The privacy policy can be found here.

Transparency is important. Therefore you will find answers to frequently asked questions already here, for example about me (profile), the services, the fees, and getting to know me. If this suits you, I look forward to working with you.



Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor?


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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: June 21, 2001
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: August 20th, 2023
Translation: ./.
German version:

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