Great Mentors Focus on the Whole Person, Not Just Their Career

This article was originally published by Harvard Business Review and the full article can be accessed here. The author, Rick Woolworth, is a good friend of FDE/FDI and we’re honored to highlight his work again. Click on his bio to see more of his contributions.

— by Rick Woolworth

Aspiring leaders need more and better mentoring than they’re getting today.

According to a recent study, the supply-demand imbalance is severe:  while more than 75% of professional men and women want to have a mentor, only 37% have one.  What’s more, most of the people currently acting as mentors aren’t having as dramatic an impact as they could because they’re too narrowly focused on career advancement.

In 2018, I spent a few hours with a Stanford University research librarian pulling up all the articles, studies and books on mentoring we could find. We found that the vast majority focus on how it is practiced in the workplace and how organization-wide programs are administered. There was remarkably little analysis or advice on how to mentor the whole person, extending beyond the career to include discussions about behavior, values, relationships, parenting, finances, and even spiritual life.

In my experience as a Wall Street executive for 35 years, as a mentor to many colleagues and friends, and now as the president of a non-profit dedicated to helping leaders establish inter-generational relationships, I’ve learned that this more holistic approach is dramatically more effective in helping people fulfill their true potential. In fact, it’s one of the beauties of mentoring and what differentiates it from coaching for skill-building or performance.

Mentoring the whole person takes more effort, more time, and more thought. Here are some practices for doing it well …

Click here to continue reading on the Harvard Business Review website.


[Special thanks to HBR for the cover photo]