Learn from Greek Goddess Athena: Mentorship Programmes in Firms Indispensable

Aug 7 , 2021
By Halima Abate (MD)

In Homer's foundational work of literature, one of the stories he tells is the account of Telemachus, who is left by his father, Odysseus, King of Ithaca, in the care of the Greek sage Mentor. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, believed that she could teach the boy better, disguised herself as Mentor, and befriended Telemachus. She became his role model and encouraged him to seek his father, who was fighting in the Trojan War. Thus, the term “mentor” came into the Latin language, and then English, as referring to a supporting role model that is admired and respected in many professions.

Developing and maintaining an organisation's knowledge and its policy arena is essential for adequately carrying out our responsibilities. It transcends our specific tasks to move beyond being simple instrumental functionaries of the organisation and carrying the burden of creativity to address problems. The necessary complements to this job-related wisdom are formulated through regular proactive attention to balance doing one’s duty to the organisation and seeking collaboration for public values and objectives. A number of activities have to occur necessarily in creating a conducive climate, including the practice of mentoring to ensure the organisation's viability.

Mentorship is a method used in professional settings and personal life to deepen experiences and perspectives. It might encompass both career and psychosocial aspects. The former relates to specifically mentoring a mentee for career success. The psychosocial aspect refers to the personal aspect of a relationship associated with supporting a protégé’s identity and sense of confidence.

Mentors are generally accepted to be leading figures in the mentoring process, with mastery in their professional field, long-term experience and high levels of achievement with qualified personalities, including intellectual, social and emotional traits. They behave as guardians, providing protection, guidance, and advice to protégés in the political, epistemological, and affective dimensions.

Dispositions essential to mentoring include openness to the protégé by allowing them to observe and provide the reasons and purposes behind choices and actions, leading incrementally, and expressing care and concern about personal and professional welfare. Mentoring identifies six types of mentors based on sponsorship including traditional mentors (older authority figures who protect, advocate for and nurture); supportive bosses (coaches); organisational sponsors (promote but are not in day-to-day contact); professional mentors (paid career counsellors and advisors); patrons (use financial resources and status to prepare and launch careers); and invisible godparents (involved “behind the scenes”).

While there are ample pieces of evidence on the positive side of mentoring, negative aspects such as mentor-protégé mismatch, manipulative mentor behaviour, lack of mentor expertise, and lack of commitment by the mentor could also abound. However, the qualities of continuing professional development through mentorships will contribute to the continued maturity of the organisation.

Considering the current organisational reforms associated with downsizing, accountability and digitisation, mentorship training will create pressures to explore improved development methods and prosperity. As ambassadors of respective organisations, promoting excellence and eschewing mediocrity through active and consistent development innovations is crucial.

Mentoring might assist future-thinking professionals in their day-to-day activities to be the most impactful and build and retain a reputation for sharing and partnering. It will further foster service diversity and reflect humanistic approaches focused on valuation, political, and cultural analyses lending a way to subjective, symbolic, and context-dependent experiences. Implementing mentorship programs will serve as a bridge to close the gap of professional roles, from the orientation of incoming personnel to more advanced preparation to construct progressive professional concepts and quality co-mentoring experiences.

PUBLISHED ON Aug 07,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1110]

Halima Abate (MD) is a public health professional with over a decade of experience. She can be reached at halimabate@gmail.com.

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