Recently I was asked by a small business with two managing partners, if I could mount a mentoring programme for the two of them – not individually but concurrently. This gave me pause for thought. Normally my mentoring had been on a strictly one-to-one basis. A key part of the process is always analyzing and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the client. I always focus on the strengths as this is where real opportunities lie. However, this does require frank discussions about weaknesses and areas where attention may be required. Obviously this could present issues where you are working with more than one person.
In this case, I was fairly relaxed as the two participants had a very open and collaborative relationship.The nature of their business was such that there were advantages to working with the two of them. However, I could see that this would not always be the case and rather than handling a one-to-one mentoring role, it might be the case that a mentor might find themself managing complex group dynamics. This could be very different from the more intimate relationship normally enjoyed.
I then took the concept further in my mind – imagine if the group became of such a size that you were effectively mentoring a whole department or whole company? Clearly you would no longer be performing the role of mentor as currently understood. It may be business advice, even coaching – but not the personal developmental role of a mentor.