Mentors and Managers – Why Aim for the Former?

Bosses or leaders may come in the form of mentors or managers. The underlying difference between the two is that mentors usually ask questions, while managers provide the answers. 

But rather than choosing a side, leaders should consider combining both roles for maximum efficiency. Managers act by organising workflow and staff placements/deployments, while the mentor stimulates a personal growth mindset in workers, by sharing their accrued expertise in the field. 

Mentors are there to help workers establish meaning in their roles, giving them a sense of direction, which strengthens their personal drive towards success. It has been reported that one-third of US workers were seriously contemplating to quit their jobs within the last three months due to a lack of growth and learning opportunities and the absence of mentor figures. 

According to Gallup, there are six fundamental elements in a mentor. Integrating these six qualities can help establish a stronger mentor-mentee relationship for improved dynamics and productivity. 

1) Have Something Meaningful to Offer

Mentor relationships should not be established for the sake of recognition or adulation. Before all else, mentors should establish the essential skills and knowledge that can help advance the careers of their mentees. This should be clarified early in the relationship. 

Hence, it is important to choose the right mentee who will benefit the most from the unique information that you’re interested to share.  

2) Build Relationships

Mentors seek to create actual relationships with their mentees that go beyond employer-employee dynamics. It should come to a point whereby the mentee looks forward to receiving sound advice when they hit a brick wall in their professional lives. 

There should be a lingering spirit of inquiry, where mentees are confident about asking anything that will help propel them in their career. 

3) Show Genuine Care

Mentors are committed to watching their mentees grow. They want what’s best for their mentees out of the sheer desire to watch them develop and contribute to the future landscape. They’re not hoping to receive praise, reward, or recognition for their role. Even if they are, it would be all the way down at the bottom of their priority list. 

This selflessness is integral in a good mentor, to eliminate the corrupting influence of the ego, which may drive ulterior motives aimed at personal gain. 

4) Always Listen

The mentor is always willing to listen, regardless of how trivial an issue might seem. They’re there to hear what a mentee has to say before sharing their take on current and past organisational knowledge. 

Listening may seem like an easy straightforward process, but it hardly is. People might wait for the right opportunity to jump into a conversation with their opinion, rather than truly understand what a person has to say. 

The International Listening Association provides a fount of information that can help leaders become better listeners. Research has shown that 85% of what we know is learned from listening

5) Discuss and Develop Goals

Ultimately, a mentor relationship requires actionable goals. These goals should be frequently and consistently observed and revised to help create a clear directive that prepares mentees for professional success. 

These goals should be a combination of long-term and short-term objectives, to achieve a seamless career journey. Mentors are able to apply their professional experience in creating an easy-to-follow series of checkpoints to help mentees stay on the right track each step of the way. 

6) Build Trust

Trust is perhaps the most important ingredient in the relationship. Mentors are advised to do everything it takes to establish confidence in their mentees. There should be no doubt or reservations in the relationship. Mentors should come across as pillars of support that mentees can come to rely on when they’re needed the most. 


A leader who is both mentor and manager is able to optimise the productivity at a workplace and enhance worker performance by engaging their innate goals and abilities. 


StrengthsAsia has helped many individual and corporate clients all throughout the region in identifying and maximizing their talents, in driving engagement and increasing motivation in their work and life.

Sign up for our upcoming StrengthsAsia Showcase Workshop to enjoy a world-class facilitated experience to learn how you can optimise performance with CliftonStrengths engagement strategies. 

A devotee at the altar of language and a celebrant of expression. Laurenzo has written for various SMEs, MNCs, startups and international brands over the last three years. He specializes in topics of psychology, lifestyle, employee management, and digital trends.

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