Mentoring 18-03: 7 Business Mentoring Formats Available To Guide Your Management-Leadership Journey

Mentoring 18-03

If you have a mentor, you've chosen wisely. Everyday you benefit from the insights gleaned from the mentoring conversations. If not, the time is now to reach out! 

Through a mentoring arrangement: 

  • you take the mentor's guidance and run with it to improve personal performance and/or maximize business productivity 
  • you use the insights to guide others in advancing excellence and celebrating success
  • you slow down and reflect on your learning to identify meaningful patterns helpful to your approach to managing-leading
  • you're heartened and excited to take fast or slow action

Of the varieties of business mentors available, the seven listed below are a helpful guide. These varieties are nested within each other like a Russian doll (a doll inside a doll). Therefore, a combination of mentors is available to you.

Before exploring the seven varieties, it's important you are clear about, "What is mentoring?" and "Will mentoring be helpful to advancing my excellence?"

Mentoring is about the mentor answering the questions of mentees. That is, mentees pull the required and requested insights from mentors. Through a mix of causal and casual interactions, it's the mentees who primarily benefit from the conversations. And mentoring is a great way to advance managing-leading excellence borne of the mentors' experiences and the mentees' implementation of ideas they deem appropriate.

A mentor is a guide on your ride.

~ Stephen Hobbs

7 Business Mentoring Formats

Just as there are mentees with different questions, there are different mentors to help mentees answer those questions. Of the "nested seven" mentioned below - how many have you/will you tap into for insights today?

= Inside mentor - someone who works inside your organization and you meet face-to-face. Their experiences have direct value. As a current or emerging manager-leader you might not have competence in all areas of management-leadership, and managing-leading. However, others within the organization have insights they're willing to share.

Such a relationship may be short or long in duration. 

  • From a short-term perspecitve, the conversations tap into the mentor's expertise. Once competence is achieved, the mentee disbands the mentor-mentee connection and reframes the ongoing relationship through intermittent respectful dialogue.
  • From a long-term perspective, the relationship may last years through which the mentee gains ongoing career insights and more.

= Outside mentor - someone who is outside your organization and who you can meet face-to-face. S/he could be a manager-leader in another company who you perceive has advanced knowledge and skills. You might find them through a work-related network group or mastermind type gathering.

The long and short-term perspectives of the relationship apply as per the Inside Mentor explanation.


= Remote mentor - someone who is not in the same location as you and could be inside or outside your organization. With greater distance between the mentor-mentee, the interpretation of insights might vary for a number of reasons like different socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental and political conditions. Yet, the intention is to harvest the pureness of their insights for application where the mentee works.

The long and short-term implications of relationship mentioned above apply.

= Book-based (academic) mentor - someone who you read/view/hear. Her/his insights are available through various medias. By accessing their resources you gain insight into their thinking and management-leadership decisions. And where available, you access their autobiographies and/or biographies. You may reach out and invite them to become a remote or outside mentor.

= Pop-culture mentor - someone who you follow through social media. You reach out and connect indirectly with your mentor by reading blogs and articles, and watching videos. You are tapping into unfolding expertise and advice as it plays out in the public domain. You may reach out and invite them to become a remote or outside mentor.

= Younger mentor - someone who is younger than you. As a manager-leader, you've not learned everything until someone younger mentors you. Their perspectives offer generational insights you might otherwise miss. They might be a pop-culture, book-based, remote, outside, even an inside mentor.

= Group Mentors - the possibility exists you'll interact with more than one mentor. While you benefit one-to-one with each mentor, by tapping into the group as a whole you access a mastermind, nay mentor-mind of rich and diverse answers to your questions. You learn from the other mentors (and mentees) who may be a combination of the other six mentor varieties.


To be fair, the six varieties identified above are usually free-ish. However, the cost of a coffee or purchase of a book may be included in the arrangements.

In today's new economy there is "the mentoring marketplace." Herein, entrepreneurial mentors charge to access their products, services and experiences = Paid Mentor.

They have systemized and monetized their expertise for purchase.
They are available offline and online.
Aside from inside mentor, a paid mentor could be one or more of the other five mentoring formats. 

In interacting with a paid mentor, you determine their insights are worth purchasing. While your relationship involves a higher cost, the time is usually shorter, and the effort may be less or more depending on the product, service and experience you purchase.

The key mentoring distinction here, the entrepreneurial mentor is charging you to answer your questions and less likely to establish a long-term mentor-mentee relationship. Should they move into teaching you, they have moved out of mentoring. Be alert to such situations if you paid for mentoring.

What I think the mentor gets is the great satisfaction of helping somebody along, helping somebody take advantage of an opportunity that maybe he or she did not have.

~ Clint Eastwood

mentor mentoring

In Summary

The seven mentoring formats mentioned above are a sample of the types of mentoring arrangements available. 

Can you add another to the list ... if yes, please do so by adding your suggestion via the comments section below. We would all enjoy learning from you. 

A version of this article was publish August 2014:

To Work Well Together involves mentoring! 

Available Now to support his Mentoring 18-03 post:

Managing - Leading Mentoring in the Workplace

eBook ... Dr. Stephen Hobbs
Click image to the right to access Amazon Kindle and PDF versions of the book 

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