A coach talks with you . . .

A mentor talks to you . . .

A sponsor talks about you . . .


In any relationship, there are two halves. Both halves come to that relationship with a “schema” about how it will work, how they are viewed, how they view others, and so many other thoughts that it makes it unlikely to have a “clean start”.

During our session on mentoring and development on July 14th, Nikki Watkins led the group in a discussion about their own mindsets and how people may be limiting or liberating themselves. They made a discovery that human connection is possible early in a relationship if we focus on being our true authentic selves. Additionally, they understood that others’ perspectives might provide them with valuable new insights and thinking. Speed networking, large group discussion, intimate pair work and finally small group work, took them on a journey of discovery about themselves and their peers. The day was spent learning about some of the neuroscience behind our thinking patterns, exploring some best practices, and getting to know inspirational and insightful people as part of our venture on the road to equality.

"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves." - Steven Spielberg 


“What are your Best Practice recommendations for ensuring women
get the most out of their mentoring relationships?”

Best Practice for the Mentor:


  • Is clear on what they can offer – insight / knowledge / experience.
  • Is clear on their own motivations for mentoring.
  • Demonstrates they are trustworthy.
  • Maintains confidentiality.
  • Is well prepared for meetings.
  • Is flexible on time and content.


  • Actively listens.
  • Never judges – or has a good awareness of own biases.
  • Discloses, opens up and shares mistakes in order to build trust.
  • Helps put things in perspective.
  • Looks at different options and directions.
  • Opens your mind to all possibilities, not just one answer.
  • Helps you articulate ideas and become a better communicator.
  • Is clear on the boundaries for the conversation.
  • Helps you focus the conversation on what is important and helps drill down on issues.
  • Asks open-ended questions.
  • Is outcome oriented, keeping you focused on subjects that matter.
  • Appreciates when to advise and when to coach.
  • Has a discussion before jumping in to give advice, looking to understand your thinking patterns.
  • “Normalises” your thinking patterns or fears (e.g. discusses imposter syndrome).
  • Helps create priorities for the next session.
  • Puts milestones in to help with clear measurement of success.


  • Makes time for you.
  • Is positive with you and about you.
  • Challenges your thinking.
  • Adds value and brings inspiration.
  • Is as open to learning as they are to advising, understanding this is a symbiotic relationship.
  • Is clear when there is chemistry and when there isn’t.
  • Exits a relationship if there isn’t a fit.
  • Holds you accountable.
  • Commits to you and follows up on their promises.
  • Is committed to helping you develop and grow.

"Mentoring is a two-way street. You get out what you put in." - Steve Washington

Best Practice for the Mentee:


  • Asks people to be their mentor – has courage!
  • Realises one person can’t be everything, and seeks different inputs from different people.
  • Seeks diversity in their mentors to widen perspectives and viewpoints.
  • States what they want from the relationship.
  • Drives the contract at the beginning.
  • Understands the boundaries and what you can and can’t do.
  • Seeks a trial to ensure there is a fit for both parties.


  • Is clear with you about what skills need to be developed.
  • Knows what they need versus being vague.
  • Seeks real stories from you that help them realise they are not alone with their challenges.
  • Thinks about the session beforehand in order to utilise the time well.
  • Shares in advance what is important for the next session.
  • Turns up for meetings on time and prepared.
  • Is respectful of your time and sticks to agreed meeting times.
  • Is committed to action-replaying back what has happened at the next session.
  • Actively listens.


  • Is authentic – brings their whole self to the relationship.
  • Trusts that you have their best intentions in mind.
  • Is able to utilise you as a cheerleader.
  • Is open-minded and coachable.
  • Only follows advice that is true to them.
  • Asks for help.
  • Asks to be sponsored.
  • Seeks honest feedback.
  • Does their homework and follows through with commitments.
  • Is open to changing their thinking, behaviour and beliefs.

"If I hadn't had mentors, I wouldn't be here today. I'm a product of great mentoring, great coaching... Coaches or mentors are very important." - Indra Nooyi