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Power Mentoring

by Ellen Ensher and Susan Murphy

Jossey-Bass © 2005, 355 pages, $27.95 (ISBN 0-7879-7952-X).

How Successful Mentors And Protégés Get the Most Out of Their Relationships

In an effort to help professionals and managers make the most of their careers, management professor Ellen A. Ensher and psychology professor Susan Elaine Murphy have interviewed 50 of America’s most successful mentors and protégés to discover the secrets of great mentoring relationships. By showing readers how to obtain a mentor or protégé, or improve the mentoring relationships they already have, the authors provide practical advice to all types of professionals at all stages in their careers that can help them learn more and grow their careers faster than they could alone.

Some of the mentoring relationships described in Power Mentoring are the traditional connections that happen between an older, more experienced mentor and a younger protégé who gains vast insight from the guidance provided. However, the authors write, most of the people they interviewed did not rely on a single mentor for support, “but instead had a broad network consisting of a variety of mentors to support them.” The authors call this network approach to mentoring “power mentoring,” and they explain that those involved, both as mentors and protégés, received results that were mutually beneficial to their personal career growth and development.

Fifty Professionals

The 50 mentors and protégés whose interviews provide the lessons that comprise Power Mentoring have careers spanning a variety of industries and professions. They include corporate presidents, military commanders, film and TV directors, congressmen and politicians, and many other types of professionals.

Although the authors recognize the value of traditional mentoring, they explain that recent research reveals that mentoring relationships today are different. Power mentoring reflects the new work environment as well as today’s unique career challenges.

Although many people and organizations claim that mentoring is the answer to a variety of societal and organizational problems, the authors point out that researchers continue to find that formal mentoring programs are less effective than spontaneously developed relationships. They write that, instead of spending large amounts of money on formal programs, organizations would be better off expending those resources “on creating an infrastructure that enables mentoring relationships to grow and thrive organically.” To show how formal mentoring programs can be improved and brought up to the level of informal relationships, the authors present ideas about how to make these programs look and feel like informal relationships.

A Diverse Network

The authors’ approach to mentoring includes the idea that having a diverse network of mentors is the best solution for problems in today’s careers. They recommend that “if you are a protégé, you can take an active approach to getting a mentor rather than waiting to be chosen.” To do this, protégés must be creative when seeking out those they want to have as mentors.

Power Mentoring describes how the many people the authors interviewed have benefited professionally from networks of mentors and protégés. It also shows how people on both sides of the equation can develop relationships that enhance their own personal happiness.

The authors write that there are four differences between their power mentoring approach and traditional mentoring. Power mentoring differs in who initiates the relationship (it is often initiated by the protégé), in the extensive role of tests and challenges, in the prevalence of true reciprocity (both mentor and protégé benefit), and in its generative focus (giving back to the next generation occurs throughout the power mentor’s career). ~

Why We Like ThIS Book

Power Mentoring shows readers how to develop their own personal plan for developing rewarding relationships while also providing many insightful stories that highlight the advice and lessons it imparts. Personal experiences and examples from many notable personalities and leaders describe how much can be gained when a network of mentoring relationships is pursued. ~

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