Center for Mentoring Excellence

Mentoring Matters

January 2014
Volume 5 | Issue 1
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2014 Trainer
Certification Session!
Mentoring: Strategies for Success Trainer Certification 
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 Dates Just Announced!

March 17-19, 2014

To register or for more information click here!


2014 Mentoring
One Day Session!
We are excited to announce our one day Mentoring: Strategies for Success Program is also coming to Phoenix!

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Date Just Announced!

March 17, 2014

8:00am to 4:30pm 

Click here for more information or to register!


Dr. Ellen Ensher 
and Sue Murphy
Power Mentoring: How Successful Mentors and Proteges Get the Most Out of Their Relationships

The book that Dr. Ellen Ensher is reading

It's not too early to get started on those new year's resolutions. Who are you mentoring and who is mentoring you? 
This month we interview Dr. Ellen Ensher Professor of Management at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and co-author of Power Mentoring: How Successful Mentors and Proteges Get the Most Out of Their Relationships.
MM: Why power mentoring and how does it differ from traditional mentoring? 


EE: The biggest difference between power mentoring and traditional mentoring is the importance of cultivating a network of different types of mentors. When my co-author, Susan Murphy, and I wrote Power Mentoring in 2005, this idea of a network of mentoring relationships was really quite new. We were inspired by the work of Herminia Ibarra, Monica Higgins, and Kathy Kram who had suggested these ideas in earlier academic research. So, when we conducted our 50 interviews with executives in media, politics, and entertainment we were open to the idea of a network but were surprised by the variety of forms. We came up with a typology of 12 different types of mentoring relationships. A network of mentors might include peers, step-ahead mentors, and reverse mentors as well as a traditional mentor.  Unlike a marriage, you are not required to be monogamous in power mentoring relationships!  Multiple mentoring relationships can improve your knowledge, skills, and abilities in a variety of ways.


MM:What does power mentoring look like when it is successfully put into practice?


EE: Regardless of the type of mentoring relationships that one has, the key to successful practice is reciprocity.  For example, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, and Donald Graham, CEO of the Washington Post, are a great example of a power mentoring relationship as they both gain a great deal from their relationship with one another. Early on in his tenure at Facebook, Zuckerberg turned to Graham for advice on being a CEO and Graham received the benefit of Zuckerberg's expertise on social media.  For another example, here is a link to recent article in Entrepreneur magazine about connecting with power mentors.


Recently, I used the power mentoring approach in preparing for a Tedx talk. Although I am a professor and professional speaker, I still found the Tedx talk format to be different from what I had done before and quite challenging to master. So, I used the power mentoring approach to get ready for this talk. First, it is interesting to note, that I was initially recommended for the talk by my traditional mentor who I have I worked with early on in my own career and has been the center of my mentoring circle for 20 years. So, my traditional mentor gave me the connection and the emotional support in the form of a pep talk to get ready. I also used the mentor for hire approach by working with an executive coach who specialized in Ted talks. In addition, I did several run-throughs with respected colleagues who served as peer mentors and gave me valuable feedback. I also turned to the internet to gain pointers from my inspirational mentor, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.  An inspirational mentor is someone that you don't necessarily have a personal relationship with but who serves as a role model and enables you to learn from them by watching them in action or reading their words. Sandberg's talk became my model of what I wanted my Tedx talk to look like in terms of style and message.


MM: How would someone go about getting a power mentor?


EE: As I mentioned before when I did my Tedx talk I focused on the topic of how to get a mentor. In this talk, I outline three steps to getting a power mentor which are: 1) Know yourself, 2) Reflect on whom to reach out to, and 3) Connect with courage. I think the hardest part about connecting with a mentor is having the courage to do so.  What I have found in talking to my students and clients is that most people seem to have some kind of "courage ritual" that they employ before doing things that are hard and important. I demonstrate by singing the courage ritual song that I sing (suffice to say I will not be leaving my day job as a professor to pursue a career as a singer!). I think having a courage ritual is worth thinking about.  For another look at this idea, check out at a great Ted talk by Ann Cuddy, a Harvard professor, who shares her research which demonstrates that just two minutes of power poses before a job interview can transform one's performance.


MM: What have you learned from your research about mentoring in today's work environment?


EE: These days I have several streams of research I am following. First, I am really interested in this whole idea of relationship challenges or little tests that mentors and protégés pose to each both consciously and unconsciously through the relationship. I have learned that these tests exist and have tremendous impact on whether a mentoring relationship stays intact. If you want to read more about this click here. 


I am also really interested in the impact of mentoring for Chinese and Japanese managers. Mentoring has been mainly an informal process but is really catching on as a formal program so I am interested and learning more and sharing my knowledge in these cultures as well.


MM: What is the one piece advice you have for mentors and mentees who want to get the most out of their relationships?


EE: I think mentors and mentees would be well advised to recognize that mentoring relationships, like other interpersonal relationships, morph and that you need to keep nurturing the relationship and checking in both for yourself and the other person to make sure the relationship still works.


MM: What are you reading now that you would recommend to our subscribers?


EE: I like to read several books at once but my favorite is Dave Eggers newest book, The Circle. It is fiction and it is about a young woman who goes to work for the coolest technology company in the world, whose environment, practices, and product are eerily similar to places like Google and Facebook. However, things go wrong, very wrong and I could not put this book down. I read a lot and this is the best book I have read in a long time. There are many great business themes in this book like leadership, culture, and questions relevant for our times like privacy and connectedness. I also like Dave Eggers as he has founded a non-profit to help burgeoning writers and at risk kids so not only does he write well but he does good too, so I am a fan.

A Note to Our Readers:


We believe that leaders cannot be effective without a strong and ongoing commitment to mentoring excellence. This belief, our passion for mentoring excellence, and our extensive experience in the field with organizations led us to create the Center for Mentoring Excellence. At our virtual center,, you will find mentoring tools and resources, expert advice and a forum for sharing best mentoring practices. We hope that you will visit us there and let us know how we can continue to help you raise the bar on mentoring in your organization.