"The most important characteristic of a good mentor and a good mentoring
relationship is that the mentor lets their student or mentee explore and develop into the
person and the career that they want to have. It realizes that it is a collaborative
relationship with a mentoring student and working together to get where that person wants to be."
-- Dr. Marco Hefti
A culture of mentoring sees mentoring not only as a requirement box to tick, but as an effective practice that anybody can benefit from. A culture of mentoring embodies the following five characteristics:
- Holistically and authentically values mentees as they engage with their goals, create opportunities, and move forward on their individual paths
- Values the efforts that mentors invest into relationship building
- Values and cultivates high quality, meaningful, and effective mentoring practices
- Shapes interactions within a web of connections, rather than just one-way relationships
- Ranks engagement over prestige, taking the mindset that no one is perfect and everyone has something to learn
This culture can be developed over time through intentional planning and supportive leadership which promotes the message that mentoring can be for anyone and creates structures which support the practice of mentoring. These external measures bolster the internal work of mentoring relationships, allowing more meaningful connections to be formed.
Additionally, a culture of mentoring especially extends support towards women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+ individuals, Latinx individuals, people with disabilities, and any other groups who are actively marginalized under institutional systems and structures. Going beyond a singular program or opportunity, by establishing a culture of mentoring within your discipline or department, you are contributing to a richer, more equitable future not only for yourself, but for everyone who interacts with your organization, department, and/or discipline.
As you move through your mentoring relationships, consider how to incorporate these characteristics within your own connections, department(s), and broader communities.