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Mentoring for Global Development Professionals

Now, I usually talk about coaching in this blog, but this time, I want to talk about mentoring for global development professionals – and an exciting new project I’m leading – Mentoring Exchanges –  that matches development professionals with international executives and academics from around the world.

First of all – a few definitions and distinctions.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is a relationship between two people meaning a mentor and mentee that aims to achieve the mentee’s goals and improve their knowledge, skills and performance.

What is a Mentor?

“A mentor is someone who acts as a trusted advisor, support, teacher and wise counsel to another person (often called the mentee). A mentor provides support by offering information, advice and assistance in a way that empowers the person they are mentoring.” Julie Starr (The Mentoring Manual)

What is a Mentee?

A mentee is the person who is mentored. The mentee takes responsibility for their own self-development and commits to working on it with their mentor.

What Mentoring is/is not –

It is important to be clear on the key differences between mentoring and other types of organisational support, such as coaching, consulting, counselling and training that is outlined by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) –


graphic difference between mentoring-coaching-training


Whilst there are similarities in the techniques used in the various interventions, it is important to remember that mentoring offers guidance that is often based on the mentor’s experiences (unlike coaching).

Mentoring – ‘What’s in it for me?’

There are numerous benefits for the mentee, the mentor, and their respective organisations, such as:

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Benefits for the mentee:

  • You’ll feel better able to take control of your career and achieve goals.
  • Develop yourself personally and gain greater knowledge, awareness, experience or contacts in some specific area. As Jon Younger recalls,  says, development feedback can be tough to hear but it offers some of the most useful career advice.
  • Learn from an experienced professional. They can help you to fill any gaps in your knowledge, behaviours, thinking, experience or skillset.
  • Get help in times of key transition. So, if you’re taking on a new role or responsibilities, you can settle into a new position / job faster by talking things through with a mentor.
  • Mentoring has an enabling and empowering effect. For example, to identify or activate your career plan or personal self-development plan and to help you to build networks and gather influencers or resources.
  • There are emotional and psychological benefits. As Wendy Murphy notes, mentoring provides a safe space to work through powerful emotions in the service of bringing about increased confidence and job satisfaction. It also allows time for reflection and intellectual challenge. So, you’ll have a stronger sense of purpose, and renewed status.

neon sign - do something great - mentor global development professionals

Benefits for the mentor:

  • Learning from the experience. Whether this includes a different perspective, finding out about other organisations, or improving communication and leadership skills.
  • Affirmation or confirmation of your value. When you share your knowledge and experience with someone else it confirms your contribution which energises you and boosts job satisfaction and self-worth.
  • Explaining your knowledge and experience helps to clarify and concentrate its essence for use in your own career.
  • You’ll benefit from positive challenge when you explain your rationale and thinking. This means that you’ll need to listen actively, think on your feet, and be empathetic and flexible, adapting to suit another personality, context or situation.
  • Gaining the pleasure and satisfaction of helping someone else.
  • Satisfaction of ‘giving back’. It can be very satisfying to give to another person, organisation, community or society. Or put differently to display altruism.
  • Exercising and improving your interpersonal skills. This means developing other people which works to enhance your people-management skills.

In ‘Why It’s Important To Take Time To Mentor’, Kara Goldin highlights the reciprocal nature of mentoring benefits

Mentoring someone outside your business gives you a more dispassionate perspective. You don’t tell that person what to do. Instead you offer advice and guidance. Applying this thinking to your own business will make you a better leader and help enhance your team’s skill sets.


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Benefits for the organisation:

  • Recruitment. We know that mentoring is an attractive offer to employees, encouraging new applicants, and supporting successful onboarding for new staff.
  • Retention. For example, many employees value an organisation that invests in its staff. Morale is raised and job satisfaction and loyalty increase, enabling better staff retention. This not only saves costs of recruitment and training, but also builds capacity and maintains continuity.
  • Organisational culture. We know that mentoring reflects positively on the organisation’s culture and enables its management, for example as a caring and co-operative business.
  • Reputation and public profile. So that if partners, funders and other stakeholders see that the organisation values its people, this has a powerful effect on its public profile and professional standing.
  • Increased or improved productivity and profitability.
  • Leadership and Change Management. So that skills acquired help to foster leadership development and to initiate and manage change.
  • Succession planning. We know that mentoring makes this more effective by growing new leaders and upskilling existing staff to ensure a leadership pipeline.
  • Motivating staff. For example, a mentee can be energised and excited by the process. Therefore discussing issues, finding solutions and taking action makes them an enthusiastic proponent of the organisation’s success.
  • Creating a more positive work environment. Therefore, having someone to talk to helps mentees rise to challenges and make confident decisions. It also enables communication and cooperation – and mentees’ positivity can be contagious!
  • Creating a positive organisational image.

Mentoring Exchanges

At Mentoring Exchanges we offering mentoring for global development professionals. We match those often working in resource constrained settings, together with international executives and academics, for mentoring conversations around professional development, leadership and management.

Mentoring Exchanges provides personalised matching meaning that we carefully connect individuals to find the sweet spot between purpose, passion and professional development to deliver greater social value. If you or your organisation would like to get involved, please contact us!

If you would like to explore mentoring or coaching in your life or organisation, please get in touch.

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References and further reading:

Clutterbuck, D. (2014). Everyone needs a Mentor, 5th Ed. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Chapters 1 and 4

Starr, J. (2014) The Mentoring Manual, Pearson Education Ltd, Chapter 1, p. 5-6

Management Mentors (n. d.) 25 Benefits of Mentoring. Retrieved from

Merrick, L. (2017). A guest blog from Lis Merrick, Managing Director of Coaching Ltd – The Mentoring Discourses. Retrieved from

Allen et al (2004). Career Benefits Associated with Mentoring for Proteges: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89 (1), p. 127-136