Self-Managed Mentoring

a Web-based course sponsored by Kappa Omicron Nu (KON) Honor Society
and dedicated to the mission of empowering leaders

Acknowledgement: this course was adapted from Mentoring: The Human Touch (Mitstifer, Wenberg, Schatz, 1991) by Susan S. Stratton, Lisa H. Wootton, and Dorothy I. Mitstifer.
Copyright© 2000, Kappa Omicron Nu.

PRINT a complete version of this course, including all linked activities.


This course is offered as a contribution to leadership development. Mentoring is a popular topic in education and business but Self-Managed Mentoring puts a different twist on the subject. Self-development, after all, is a personal choice, and this course enables persons to take charge of their lives. In return for this “freebie” we ask only that you write your “story”—a sort of testimonial—about how you used the content of this course and what the outcomes were. You may send your story to

You, of course, know that copyright law holds that use of this material for purposes other than your personal self-development requires advance approval. Approval can be acquired through

There are at least four choices for utilizing the course:

1. Knowledge - Read the text to learn about mentoring, especially self-managed mentoring. The "e-lectures" are identified by the following symbol:


2. Experiential Knowledge - Read the text and select several exercises that increase your competence in selected areas.

3. Self-Managed Life Change - Read the text and complete the whole series of exercises in order to make a major difference in your life.

4. Life Change facilitated by Telementoring or E-mail Mentoring - Enhance the process with a mentor selected by you, or contact Kappa Omicron Nu to supply a mentor (there may be a cost associated with this choice). Requests can be made through

There are five sections and twenty-seven activities in this course, and the authors recommend a minimum of fifteen hours (for options 3 and 4 above) to get the best value for your investment of time.

Opportunities for college credit, CEUs, or PDUs – This course could be administered for college credit like a “special problem” or as a component of a course, but persons desiring such credit must take the initiative. Kappa Omicron Nu will support such efforts if requested.

*Tip for navigating in the web-based course: In addition to the links at the bottom of each activity, the browser "Back" button will take you to the immediately preceding location.


Section I: Introduction/Orientation

A person cannot lead others without first learning how to lead oneself. A mentor cannot mentor others without first having been mentored successfully. It is in “knowing thyself” and recognizing your own strengths AND weaknesses that authentic leadership begins. It is in the experience of “seek and you shall find; ask and you shall receive” that we learn the wisdom of life and powerful strategies to help others.

Completing this course well will require four commitments from you:

1. Self-discipline to complete all the activities provided. Each activity will help you explore a part of yourself that you may not have thought about before.

2. Keeping a journal. All activities should be kept in that journal, as well as other reflections. It is recommended that you continue writing the journal beyond the completion of the course. Journaling can help you reflect on who you are in the world and how life impacts you. At the beginning of your journal, label 3-5 pages with “Mentoring Needs.” It is on these pages that you will accumulate a list of mentoring needs, which will present themselves as you progress through the activities of this course. You will find this symbol at each activity that requires you to write in your journal:

journal activity

3. Design for yourself a support group of three other people that you can call on as you progress through this course of study. The members of this group can serve you in the following ways:

Activity 1.1: My Support Group

Identify your support group in your journal.

As you progress through this course, lean on these people to help you in your personal and professional growth.

journal activity

4. On a daily basis, ask yourself the following questions in the morning and in the evening. Asking these questions will set you on a healthy path of proactive noticing of you in the world. The questions can simply be a mental exercise that takes about 3-5 minutes in the morning and evening OR you can journal your responses. The key is to develop a pattern of consistent questions that empower you on a daily basis.

journal activity

Morning Empowerment Questions

1. What am I excited about in my life now?

What about that makes me excited? How does that make me feel?

2. What am I grateful about in my life now?

What about that makes me grateful? How does that make me feel?

3. What am I enjoying most in my life right now?

What about that do I enjoy? How does that make me feel?

4. What am I committed to in my life right now?

What about that makes me committed? How does that make me feel?

5. Who do I love? Who loves me?

What about that makes me loving? How does that make me feel?

Evening Empowerment Questions

(Robbins, 1991)

1. What have I given today?

2. What did I learn today?

3. How has today added to the quality of my life?

4. How did I contribute to others today?

5. How did I show my love and compassion for others today?

What is mentoring? Why is it important to you?

A mentor is generally considered a more experienced person who alternately functions as a coach, counselor, and a teacher. The mentoring relationship has many functions:

Mentoring is carried on in informal and formal ways. It can be done through facilitation by another individual or through self-facilitation. This course focuses on creating a Self-Managed Mentoring Program.

Completing this course well will put you on the path to successful adulthood, a promising professional life, and a healthy, integrated personal approach to life.

Informal mentoring

Most people experience the informal “happenstance” mentoring throughout a lifetime. “Lucky” mentees are chosen by persons who take a “special interest” in them and promote their personal or career development. A major problem with this informal mentoring is that women and minorities are the least likely to be “adopted” by a mentor. The “old boys’ network” for promising young men, especially white, middle class men, has not yet been fully adapted for other deserving candidates. Thus the reason for the development of more formal mentoring programs and services.

Formal mentoring

Formal mentoring programs vary in scope and design. Some are sophisticated programs with staffs for training and monitoring progress; others are volunteer-led networks for supporting mentors and mentees. Professional associations and business are likely sponsors of mentoring networks. Personal coaches, like a personal trainer, are available for hire by either a corporate professional development department for promising career candidates OR by an individual who is determined to fulfill career dreams.

Self-Facilitation or Mentoring Self-Management Program

Through self-facilitation or self-management, mentees identify, understand, and use their unique developmental patterns to manage their own mentoring. In other words, by observing yourself “objectively”, and reflecting on what you observe, you can determine exactly what you need to overcome your next developmental challenge. A mentoring self-management program places the responsibility onto the mentee and expands the notion of mentoring to include peers, parents and siblings, biographies, illuminating materials and media, reflection on field experiences and serial mentoring.

There are two types of self-management: Passive and Proactive

Passive self-management occurs when you put yourself in a situation where things will happen to you, which you believe will be empowering. By placing yourself in certain situations, you are provided with experiences, which affect you more or less profoundly. When you choose to enroll in a course or to work in a particular environment, you are practicing passive self-management.

Proactive self-management occurs when you consciously choose to alter your behavior—to interrupt how you normally do things, believing this can benefit you. You may choose to speak or listen or behave in a new way. You take the initiative—it is your idea, your choice, your action. For example, choosing to exercise is proactive self-management for a person who may normally be inactive. Choosing to wear a different style of clothing may alter how people respond to you. Beginning meditation, expressing feelings you usually hide, or sharing secrets are all examples of proactive self-management.

This proactive self-management focus allows you to work through all the barriers you internally create to resist change in behavior. Using your conscious will in pursuit of a personal goal is the thing that gives you the energy to keep on the path of pursuit. As you become more proactive in your life, you will also become stronger.

As you pursue your career, you will ultimately be in a profession where you must mentor and lead others. For a mentor-in-training, self-management is essential. You need to take on training yourself to be fully conscious and as aware as possible. This self-management training needs to become a life practice, focused on looking for ways of continuous self-improvement.

This course is just the beginning. It provides you tools and resources to identify your needs and processes, ways to assess the timing of the mentoring activity as well as tools to determine the best mentoring form to overcome the unique personal and professional challenges you face.

Activity 1.2: The Story of Me

(Cameron, 1996, p. 50).

journal activity

In your journal (after the Mentoring Needs pages), title the next several pages as follows:

Years 0-5, Years 6-10, Years 11-15, Years 16-20, Years 21-25, etc. in five year increments to your current age.

On each page allocated, answer the following questions about that time frame:

Where did you live?

Who were your major players?

Were there any significant pets?

What was my favorite? Food? Game? Music? Friend? Toy(s)? Hobbies? Interests? Clothes?

What were my major events during that time?

What are my dominant memories of the time?

Staying in touch with all of you is important as you begin to reflect on where you want to go and what you need.

This historical review may take 2 pages or maybe 20. Some of it may be difficult to recall and some will flow quite easily. Reviewing the history of any relationship is the first step in determining the next developmental challenges.

Activity 1.3: Reflection

After completing the narrative review of your life, record your observations in your journal, completing at least one of the following sentences:

  • I’ve become aware…
  • After some reflection, I’ve decided…
  • I’m proud of myself because I…
  • A pattern I have noticed…

journal activity

Activity 1.4: Who were your informal mentors?

Defining Your Mentors and Exploring Mentoring Relationships

What mentoring messages did important people in your life leave with you? What effect did they have on who you are, who you can be, and what you should do? Did they instill you with strong, repetitive messages? Use the space below to explore both the positive and negative messages you’ve received.




(Exemplar, Visionary, Motivator, Sponsor, Teacher, Supporter, Listener, etc.)


Mentoring Messages



Desired Changes


Activity 1.5: Coat of Arms

Personal coats of arms have never been popular in the United States, but many families have these heraldic devices that reference their ancestral heritage. The "Coat of Arms" strategy is not concerned with the inherited heraldry of family hand-me-down symbols but with the desirable qualities with which you would like to be associated.

In the appropriate areas of your coat of Arms, answer six questions, not in words but in pictures. The drawings may be simple, even crude, as long as they mean something to you; as long as you know what they express. This strategy seeks the quality of values, not the quality of artwork.

Why symbols? Not only are symbols or pictographs the traditional means of illustrating heraldic shields, but the use of abstract symbols may force us to think beyond words. As a famous French writer said, "Many of us use words to conceal thought more than to express it." Here we will avoid being too verbal and hiding behind words. Let's see what we can picture.

Coat of Arms


Draw pictures to depict your answers to six (6) of the following questions.


These questions will help you identify the personal qualities that you wish to represent you.

1. What do you regard as your greatest personal achievement?

2. What do you regard as your family's greatest achievement?

3. What is the one thing that other people can do to make you most happy?

4. What would you do if you had one year to live and were guaranteed success in whatever you attempted?

5. What three words would you most like to have said about you if you died today?

6. What is one value, a deep commitment, from which you would never budge?

7. What is the material possession most significant to you?

8. What is your greatest achievement of the past year?

9. What three words (qualities) would you like to have associated with you? These could become your personal motto, words to live by.

Source: Simon, S.B. (1974). Meeting yourself halfway. Niles, IL: Argus.

After completing the Coat of Arms exercise, record your observations in your journal, completing at least one of the following sentences:

  • I’ve become aware…
  • After some reflection, I’ve decided…
  • I’m proud of myself because I…

journal activity

Activity 1.6: Mentoring Needs

Have any of the activities in Section I suggested any needs you may have for mentoring? Enter those needs on the first pages of your journal.

journal activity

Activity 1.7: Self-Empowerment

Have you been faithfully asking yourself the morning and evening empowerment questions? Remember, they will help you notice how you are in the world, but they will also help you see your life in a positive light and reduce your stress level!

Have you been using your support group of three to keep you accountable to this process? What do you need from them to complete the next section of this course?

journal activity


Section II: What Do You Need to Get to the Next Level? Exploring Your Mentoring Needs

The concept of self-managed mentoring is about clarifying your values, assessing your own mentoring needs, setting goals and developing an action plan to achieve your goals. In other words, you design your own unique mentoring program.

The map that describes your mentoring strategies will be unlike anyone else’s. Your life experiences are always in flux and are being shaped by how you deal with life on life’s terms. As in any wise planning process, establishing a vision is the first step. The exercises in this section will help you reflect on the big picture of YOU and give you an opportunity to notice your themes and ruts, and consider alternative futures for YOU.

Activity 2.1: Dream Inventory

Every reality begins with an idea, a dream, a vision. Journaling your dreams, no matter how extravagant or insignificant they may be, helps to give shape to the path of the future. Recording these dreams in one place will help create a big picture of your future, illuminating the challenges yet to overcome to achieve your dreams.

So take off the blinders of probability and possibility. Throw out the filters of whether you need it, deserve it, or are worth it. List everything here that you’ve ever wanted—to travel, to own, to be or to become. Think about what YOU want.

In terms of Self, think about the total you. Consider what you want professionally, financially (materially), socially, physically, intellectually, emotionally, ethically, spiritually, and family relationship-wise. Continue adding to the list in your journal, as you create new dreams.

journal activity

Activity 2.2: The 100 Questions

(Gelb, 1998, p. 59).

journal activity

Step 1: In one sitting, in your journal, make a list of 100 questions that are important to you. The list can include any kind of question as long as it seems significant to you. Your questions may range from “Why is the sky blue?” to “What is the meaning of my existence?” to “How can I laugh more?” to “How can I enjoy the cloudy days more?” to “What grad school is right for me?” Write quickly, don’t edit. Don’t worry about repeating the same question. The first 20 questions will be easy, and the next 30 will offer themes and needs. The final fifty will likely be profound thoughts and unexpected discoveries.

Step 2: Reflection. Once you have the 100 questions written, set them aside. In another sitting, consider the emerging themes without judging them. Write your observations about the list in your journal. Look at the themes that are present…what do they say about the challenges and focus that you are presented?

Step 3: Your Top Ten. Choose the 10 questions of your 100 that seem most significant to you. Rank them in the order of importance to you. Don’t try to answer them, just put them in one place where you can easily find them.

Activity 2.3: Checklist for Personal Values

(Roberts, 1994, p. 210).

journal activity

Step I: From the list of values (both work and personal), select the ten that are most important to you—as guides for how to behave, or as components of a valued way of life. Feel free to add any values of your own to the list.


___Advancement & promotion


___Affection (love and caring)


___Challenging problems

___Change and variety

___Close relationships









___Ecological awareness

___Economic security



___Ethical practice





___Fast living

___Fast-paced work

___Financial gain




___Having a family

___Helping other people

___Helping society



___Influencing others

___Inner harmony


___Intellectual status


___Job tranquility





___Market position

___Meaningful work




___Being around others who are open and honest

___Order (tranquility, stability, conformity)

___Personal development (living up to the fullest use of my potential)

___Physical challenge


___Power & authority


___Public service


___Quality of what I take part in

___Quality relationships

___Recognition (respect from others, status)



___Responsibility & Accountability







___Supervising others

___Time freedom




___Work under pressure

___Work with others

___Working alone

Step 2: Now that you have identified ten values, imagine if you are only permitted to have five values. Which five would you give up? Cross them off.

Step 3:From the remaining five values, identify you top three and circle them.

Step 4: Take a look at your top three values and answer the following questions in your journal:

journal activity

1. Exactly what do the value terms mean to you? What are you expecting from yourself—even in bad times?

2. How would your life be different if those values were prominent and practiced?

3. What would an organization be like that encouraged its employees to live up to those values?

4. Are you willing to choose a life in which these values are paramount?

Activity 2.4: Checklist for Professional Competencies

(Strohmeier, Bonnstetter, Wentworth Drahosz, 1993)

Take a look at the list of professional competencies that could enhance your career success. Check off the #1 area of your concern in the eight categories presented.

Interpersonal Skills

___Communication Skills

___Negotiation, Perception and Adaptability

___Coping Techniques

___Conflict Management & Resolution

___Persuasion Skills

___Team Building

___Affirmation Skills


Communication Skills

___Written Communication

___Verbal Communication

___Electronic Communication

___Listening Skills

___Presentation Skills

___Facilitation Skills for Groups or Meetings

___Tact and Diplomacy

___Selling Style and Persuasion Skills

___Body Language and Nonverbal Messages

Technical Expertise

___External Awareness of Your Academic Discipline

___Internal Awareness of Your Academic Discipline

___Financial Understanding and Management

___Project Management

___Technology Updates

___Customer Focused Orientation

___Computer Literacy

Conflict Resolution

___Analysis and Perception Skills

___Managing Agreement

___Negotiation Skills

___Resolution Focus


___Communication Skills

___Counseling Skills

___Stress Recognition Skills

___Process Management Skills

Time Management

___ Personal Knowledge and Awareness

___ Self-Direction and Motivation

___ Goal Setting Ability

___ Decisiveness

___ Decision-Making Process

___ Organizational Ability

___ Prioritizing

___ Delegating

Goal Setting Skills

___Personal Motivation

___Self-Awareness and Values

___Creative Thinking Skills


___Planning and Strategy

___Vision and Imaging Skills


___Goal Setting Process

Preparation for a Career in Management



___Team Building

___Financial Management

___Human Resource Management

___Strategic Thinking & Planning Skills

___Mentoring Ability

___Communication Skills

___Analyzing Performance Objectives

Executive Development

___Political Awareness

___Social Awareness

___Vision and Long-Range Planning

___Mission & Strategic Alignment

___Creative Thinking


___Crisis Management

___Intuitive Skills

___Leadership Skills


___Financial Analysis

___Building Coalitions

Once you have identified your “Big 8,” answer the following questions in your journal:

journal activity

  • Why do you see this area currently as “incompetence”? What specifically is the gap in skill or knowledge that you see in your life or career?
  • How will learning about that area impact your life or career?
  • If you displayed that area competently, what doors would it open for you?
  • Professional vision—what would possessing that competency bring to you?

Activity 2.5: Goal Setting

(to complete this exercise, you must first complete Activities 1.1-1.4, 2.1-2.4)

journal activity

From my 100 questions activity, what themes are present to me that I need to explore further? Enter those needs on the first pages of your journal.

What situation or type of relationship recurs in your life? Does this suggest a need? Enter those needs on the first pages of your journal.

From your dream inventory, what do you want to change in your life that will help you get what you want? Enter those needs on the first pages of your journal.

From your Checklist of Personal Values, what must you do in order to put your life and career pursuits in alignment with your personal values? Enter those needs on the first pages of your journal.

From the Checklist for Professional Competencies, enter the eight needs you have identified in the first few pages of journal.

Given your history and current situation, what do you need to get to the next level? Enter those needs on the first pages of your journal.

Complete the Goal-Setting Worksheet:

Goal-Setting Worksheet

Step 1: Take about 3 minutes to write, in the space below, the professional and personal values you hold.

The following underlying beliefs (values) will guide my future decisions:

Step 2: Take about 5 minutes to write, in the space below, two to four needs.

My current needs are:

Step 3: Prioritize your needs by indicating your first and second priorities.



Step 4: Write goals to achieve your first and second needs. Use an active verb to complete the sentence stem.

I will:

Step 5: Revealing and Clarifying Personal Goals—Discuss (with a member of your support group) your values, needs, priorities, and goals. Listen to feedback and rewrite goals if warranted.

Activity 2.6: Self-Empowerment

Have you been faithfully asking yourself the morning and evening empowerment questions? Remember, they will help you notice how you are in the world, but they will also help you see your life in a positive light and reduce your stress level!

Have you been using your support group of three to keep you accountable to this process? What do you need from them to complete the next section of this course?

journal activity

Section III: Charting Your Mentoring Plan

Your next mission, should you decide to accept it, is to look at your history with mentoring. As in any wise planning process, a review of history by scanning the environment for relevant influences is important to understanding where your needs really are. Use the following activities to consider, admire, and improve upon your own mentoring methods.


3 A’s Of Primary Mentors

Mentors are classified by Darling & Schatz (1991) into three categories.


Feeling Drawn to Your Mentor

"I felt drawn toward…" I was inspired by…" "I enjoyed being with…"


A Mentor Takes Action for Your Benefit

"She looked after my best interests…" "He opened doors for me…" "She always gave me good advice…"


The Mentor Has Positive Feelings About You

"She gave me confidence…" "He listened to me…" "She helped me learn to trust myself…"

Professional Mentoring Behaviors

The following Table describes the "3 A's" and the component characteristics in more detail and serves as an assessment instrument.

Role Model
Attraction Domain

“Her energy and determination inspired me to...” “I saw how he was able to...” “I admired the way she...” “Watching him showed me how I should...”

The Exemplar


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

“He made me see the potential of...” “She showed us where we were going and what we needed to do to improve our profession” “After speaking with him, I saw the possibilities for...”

The Visionary


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

“Her energy motivated me to...” “He was so fascinating and dynamic that I...” “I never knew how exciting this could be until she...”

The Motivator


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

“He believed so strongly that...” “She showed me how important this was if I wanted to...” “I never realized how much we all needed to...”

The Values Builder


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High
Action Domain

“She spent a lot of time with me...” “He involved us in experiences that helped us with...” “She got me interested in...” “He appointed me to a position that opened doors for me in...”

The Sponsor


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

“I learned so much from her about...” “he helped me to learn and grow in...” “She listened to my problems and guided me toward solutions...” “He made me look at ways I could have done better...”

The Teacher


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

“She pushed me to succeed when I didn’t think I could do it...” “He encouraged me and urged me to achieve...” “She forced me to take that first step toward...”

The Prodder


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

“He always played ‘Devil’s Advocate’ and made me prove my point...” “She made me examine the motives behind my decisions...” “He insisted I live up to my potential in...”

The Confronter


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High
Affect Domain

“She gave me the courage I needed to go to that interview...” “He gave me confidence in myself by showing me that I had something to contribute...”

TheCourage Builder


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

“She was so warm, I knew she cared about me...” “He always made himself available to me...” “I felt I could do no wrong in her eyes...” “He provided the unconditional love I needed to...”

The Support Giver


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

“She was always willing to listen” “I can tell him anything...” “After I told her what was wrong, she showed me how to...” “He was always there for me when I needed someone to talk to...”

The Listener/Adviser


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

“She was such a good friend to me...” “He brought me into the group and made sure I was comfortable...” “She took a such a personal interest in me that I was able to...”

The Ally


Low 1 2 3 4 5 High

Adapted from the research of Lu Ann W. Darling, Ed.D., based on 100 interviews with nurses and dietitians (Darling & Schatz, 1991).

Activity 3.1a: The Influences in Your Life

Identify a significant mentor who has contributed to your growth and rate the importance of each characteristic from 1 (low) to 5 (high) on the "Professional Mentoring Behaviors" Table. This form can also be helpful in facilitating self-guidance and personal growth.

Write a message to yourself (in your journal) to explain what you learned about mentoring in this activity.

journal activity

Activity 3.1b: Reflection

3 Mentoring Domains

3 Mentoring Domains

Primary Mentors possess characteristics from all three domains. Secondary Mentors will possess characteristics from one or two of these domains.

Who are your Primary and Secondary Mentors? List them below, and add to your list as you gain new mentors.

Primary Mentors

Secondary Mentors













Complete the following sentence in your journal: “In looking for a mentoring relationship, the style of mentor I value includes the following roles: …”

journal activity

Activity 3.2: Mentoring Experiences

In your journal, reflect on your mentoring experiences to date, answering the following questions:

I experienced growth through my relationship(s) with: Explain.

I experienced expansion through my relationship(s) with: Explain.

Through my relationship with ______, I came to the significant realization that….

journal activity

Activity 3.3: Self-Mentoring Techniques I Use


Methods for Self-Mentoring

Self-mentoring is the way you guide yourself through problems and decisions. These self-developed techniques are internal and self-sustaining approaches to life. These techniques revolve around a personal belief system that significantly impacts the way you view your world and the help and resources that are available to you. As you do this activity, you may find that some of your methods may be outdated or ineffective. You might also find that you would like to incorporate new techniques into your approach to achieve more effective problem solving and decision-making.

Use these thoughts to reflect on your self-mentoring traits. Record your observations and reflections in your journal.

journal activity

“I was always told to...” Parents, teachers, or other adults are often our first mentors. They teach us their values, basic survival skills, and more. We eventually internalize some or all of their views and use them throughout our lives:

“I suddenly noticed...” We are constantly exploring our surroundings and examining other people’s coping mechanisms and varied ideas. We often tailor these to our own purposes and integrate new ideas into our self-mentoring techniques:

“I learned on my own that...” Our personalities or childhood experiences may have led us to formulate our own opinions and independent ways. We may learn best with a minimum of outside assistance:

“It finally occurred to me that...” Sometimes people who are unable to accept advice or help from others experience an event that changes their inward focus and allows them to be more receptive to assistance. This commonly occurs as an element of maturation:

“I always felt that...” Some people have such strong, constant views that they seem to have a source different from those described above. Some seem to possess innate abilities or an inner compass which guides them:

Other self-mentoring methods:

Activity 3.4: Readiness to Accept Mentoring


A mentor-mentee relationship is only effective if there is trust, openness to new logic, and an interest to grow personally and professionally.

To qualify as mentee and further pursue growth, you must have:

  • the desire to learn and grow in your personal and professional life
  • the ambition to move forward
  • the ability to take risks
  • commitment and loyalty to yourself
  • a positive perception of the self
  • a combination of intelligence and common sense
  • a strong commitment to goals and personal responsibility
  • a willingness to listen and follow through with directions.

The linked checklist is a self-evaluation tool for determining your readiness for mentoring.

Mentee Checklist*




Not Ready

I know the kind of career mentoring I want

3 2 1 0

I’m willing to accept a mentor’s help, if appropriate

3 2 1 0

I’m a good listener—I hear what the person is saying

3 2 1 0

I’m a good follower

3 2 1 0

I can be counted on to carry out commitments

3 2 1 0

I’d be willing to let a mentor take much of the credit for our accomplishments at first while I learn as much as possible

3 2 1 0

I learn new things quickly

3 2 1 0

I’d be willing to speak up (diplomatically) if I disagreed with a mentor—I’m not a “yes” person

3 2 1 0

I’m good about expressing appreciation to people who help me

3 2 1 0

I feel that my career potential is high—I’d be a good risk as a mentee

3 2 1 0



21-30 You should be an excellent mentee.

11-20 You need some time to think about your needs, abilities, and the nature of your commitment.

10 or less You appear to have no desire to find a mentor.

*Adapted from Phillips-Jones, L. (1982). Mentors and protégés. New York: Arbor House.

Activity 3.5: Mentoring Needs

Have any of the activities in Section III suggested any needs you may have for mentoring? Enter those needs on the first pages of your journal.

journal activity

Activity 3.6: Self-Empowerment

Have you been faithfully asking yourself the morning and evening empowerment questions? Remember, they will help you notice how you are in the world, but they will also help you see your life in a positive light and reduce your stress level!

Have you been using your support group of three to keep you accountable to this process? What do you need from them to complete the next section of this course?

journal activity


Section IV: Developing Your Mentoring Action Plan

The development of a Self-Mentoring Plan requires analysis of the available resources. In other words, you need to explore alternative human and knowledge resources that could assist you in your planning for mentoring, and then determine which is the best approach to get what you need.

Your specific developmental challenges may require one of three types of mentorship: traditional, step-ahead or peer mentorship. You may also find value in secondary mentoring relationships like social or professional network connections or a niche mentor.

Traditional Mentors are the revered elder members of society/family, possessing wisdom or experience. The department head of the university would fit into this category.

Step-Ahead Mentors are the older siblings of society/family. They are slightly older and have more experience and knowledge. A graduate level student would be a step-ahead mentor for an undergrad.

Peer Mentors are our equals in society/family. They are from our peer group and are our colleagues and friends with whom we cooperatively share and learn.

Secondary Mentors can be extremely helpful in filling mentoring needs, especially when the ties you form are developed correctly and used wisely. Though an individual network tie may be of the secondary mentoring variety, when taken as a whole, the network may have the combined impact of a primary mentor.

A Niche Mentor will assist with one specific skill or task.

Activity 4.1: Reflection. What Type of Mentor do you need?

Given your current needs (on your goal worksheet), what value could each of these types of mentors bring to you as you work through the challenge presented? For example, how could a traditional mentor best help me with this issue? How could a step-ahead mentor help me with the issue? What value could a peer mentor bring with this issue? Consider the existing or potential networking opportunities in your life and determine if this mentoring avenue might be used more effectively and bring value to the issue at hand. Is there a niche in your life that needs a mentor now?

Write the answers to these questions in your journal. Then identify which type of mentor is best suited to the issue of concern.

journal activity


What Style of Mentor Is Best for Me?

The power in a mentor-mentee relationship is an important consideration. In activity 3.1b, you considered what mentoring role is most valuable to you. W. A. Gray (1986) describes four levels of power in the mentor-mentee relationship. These levels illustrate the development of a formal mentoring relationship. Willingness and openness to learn are absolute requirements for any type of mentoring. Level 1 is almost like sitting at the feet of the mentor, absorbing the mentor’s wisdom and submissively acting upon the direction of the mentor within your value system. Some may find this level of relationship challenging. However, heed the mentoring paradox: You cannot mentor others unless you are willing to be mentored yourself.

The level 1 power relationship will likely apply if you have no successful experience or competence in the area of pursuit. If being in the level 1 state of the relationship troubles you, be encouraged by the concept that these are stages that one passes through. When you begin to gain experience and wisdom, the power relationship should shift to “higher” levels.

Whatever level you begin at in your mentoring relationship will be determined by your willingness and motivation to learn in combination with your competence in the area. Hersey (1984) tracks the leader’s (mentor’s) role with the follower’s (mentee’s) role. When you enter into a mentoring relationship, you must honestly assess your willingness and ability and then choose a mentor who meets the needs of the level you require for growth.

Hersey’s Situational Leader Illustration
Gray’s Mentor-Mentee Relationship Model

When the follower is:

The leader should:

Levels of Power

The mentor:

Unable and unwilling or insecure,

Provide specific instructions and closely monitor or supervise performance.


Is very directive and tells the inexperienced mentee what to do and how to do it.

Unable but willing or motivated

Explain decisions and provide opportunity for clarification.


Provides major direction to the mentee based on greater experience, realism, and expertise to do things and get things done.

Able but unwilling or insecure

Share ideas and facilitate in making decisions.


Acknowledges the mentee’s competencies and experience and facilitates more equal contribution during interactions.

Able and willing or motivated

Turn over responsibility for decisions and implementation


Delegates greater responsibility. Listens to and learns from the mentee.

Toxic Mentors

No environment is free from adversity. Seldom does a relationship develop smoothly and without crisis. Carl Jung said there is no coming to consciousness without pain. Every relationship has the potential for toxic effects, and the mentoring relationship is no exception.

You will not find a “perfect” mentor, but what you want to seek instead are real and honest connections. Perfection has no depth and no personality. Imperfection means that sometimes we will get upset with others, or they will get upset with us. The mentor-mentee relationship requires a commitment to stay in the relationship dialogue as long as both people are willing to work on the relationship. Working through crises is how a relationship grows from simply being an idea to having its unique reality.

The rough spots may frighten you. You may wonder what’s wrong with me or with the other person, or the relationship. You cannot escape such questions. To run from the challenge cuts off the possibilities for growth. Learning to limit the negative consequences of such relationships may be a necessary life lesson for you.

Keeping that in mind, there are several types of toxic mentors that you may have in your life:

  • The “Avoider” is the person who is never accessible.
  • The “Dumper” lets the mentee get into a new role or situation and lets them sink or swim.
  • The “Blocker” either avoids meeting the mentee’s needs, withholds information, or blocks development by supervising too closely.
  • The “Criticizer” publicly tears down a person or constantly criticizes.

There are several ways of handling toxic mentoring relationships.

  • If the fit isn’t right, be honest about the difficulties you sense in the relationship and end the relationship with the mentor. If you still need mentoring, find another mentor that fits better with what you need.
  • If you can’t stay away from the toxic relationship, balance the relationship with a support network and or draw upon your own internal resources to minimize the detrimental effects.
  • Although toxic relationships have an impact, you can look for opportunities in the situation and not be blinded by the dangers you foresee. Using the list of questions below may help you find opportunities in the situation:

What is great about this problem? (Robbins, 1991)

  • What is great about this problem?
  • What is not perfect yet?
  • What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
  • What am I willing to no longer do in order to make it the way I want it?
  • How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want it?

Activity 4.2: Reflection. Toxic Mentors in My Life

In your journal, consider the primary mentors you have had in your life (Activity 3.1a.). Were any of them “toxic” mentors? What impact did that toxicity have on you at the time? What impact does it have on you today?

Consider your secondary mentors listed in Activity 3.1a. Were any of them “toxic” mentors? What impact did that toxicity have on you at the time? What impact does it have on you today?

How will you deal with toxic mentors in the future?

journal activity

Activity 4.3: Reviewing Your System of Social Support

Consider the supportive functions listed in the attached activity. Write down them names of the people who provide this type of support to you.

When you have completed the review, assess what type of support is missing in your life and add that area to a mentoring need.

journal activity

Reviewing Your System of Social Support*

Consider the supportive functions listed. Write down the names of the people who provide this type of support to you.

When you have completed the review, assess what type of support is missing in your life and add that area to a mentoring need.

Supportive Functions


Intimacy: People who provide you with closeness, warmth, and acceptance; who allow you to express your feelings freely and without self-consciousness; who you trust; who are readily accessible to you.


Sharing: People who share your concerns because they are in the same or similar situation; who are striving for similar objectives; with whom you share experiences, information, and ideas; with whom you exchange favors.


Self-worth: People who respect your competence; who understand the difficulty or value of your work or performance; who show respect; who recognize your skills.


Assistance: People who provide tangible services or make resources available; who don’t just lend a hand but whose assistance is not limited to time and extent of help; who you can depend on in a crisis.


Guidance: People who provide you with advice and methods to solve problems; who mobilize you to take steps toward solving problems, achieving goals, and taking action.


Challenge: People who make you think; who make you explain; who question your reasoning; who challenge you to grow.


*Adapted from Herman, S. J. (1978). Becoming assertive: A guide for nurses. New York: D. Van Nostrand, Publishers.

Activity 4.4: Mentoring Needs

Have any of the activities in Section IV suggested any other needs you may have for mentoring? Enter those needs on the first pages of your journal.

As you look at the list of mentoring needs on the first pages of your journal, brainstorm at least three names of people that could mentor you in that area. Each area may have different names attached, but you may also see a recurring name as you look at the big picture of YOU. As you brainstorm potential names, think about people in the academic atmosphere—including faculty, students and administrators. Think about your family—maybe a parent, an aunt or uncle, sibling, or family friend. Consider other circles of people that are available to you in your Church community, volunteer life, organizations you belong to. In listing the names, write down people who practice the skill you wish to develop, people you admire and trust who may or may not have the desired skill, but may be able to refer you or make an introduction of you to a qualified person. KON headquarters may also be able to refer you to as persons who possess the desired skills AND are willing to serve as mentors. As far as “passive mentoring,” are there organizations or volunteer opportunities that you could be affiliated with that would likely offer you opportunity to develop the desired skills?

journal activity

Activity 4.5: Self-Empowerment

Have you been faithfully asking yourself the morning and evening empowerment questions? Remember, they will help you notice how you are in the world, but they will also help you see your life in a positive light and reduce your stress level!

Have you been using your support group of three to keep you accountable to this process? What do you need from them to complete the next section of this course?

journal activity

Section V: Creating Your Mentoring Plan

Activity 5.1: Prioritize Your Needs

Look over your accumulated list of mentoring needs in the first pages of your journal. Identify your top five needs on the list. How do you make this selection?

journal activity

Think about your self-criticism…what areas do you always “beat yourself up about?” For example, “I wouldn’t be in this crisis if I was a better time manager.” “Why do I always get myself in situations like this?” What are you tired of hearing from yourself?

Listen to the feedback you get from others. For example: “If you had used a more diplomatic approach, you might have gotten more information.” “Speak up, I can’t hear you.” “ I don’t understand what you are trying to say here.” Is there a frequent message you receive from others that should be addressed at this time?

What does your overall visionscape require of you? To get you to the next level of your career, what do you need to do, learn, experience?

Activity 5.2: Creating Your Mentoring Plan

Print and complete this worksheet to develop your plan. Use one table for each of your five prioritized needs.



What is your vision?

Best Type of Mentor for this need

Traditional, Step-Ahead, Peer, Secondary, Niche

Power Level Desired

Willingness & Ability Assessment

Alternative Resources to consider

Books, tapes, self-reflection, self-managed

Desired Action Plan


Your Role as Mentee

If you have completed the exercises in this self-contained course, you should now have a plan of action to pursue. Yet you still have to make the calls and ask for mentoring assistance from the appropriate parties. Taking this action may be a developmental challenge for you as well! (If so, put it on your list!) This even has a name--call reluctance. Call reluctance is the fear that takes hold that prevents you from picking up the phone and asserting yourself to get what you need. Many factors contribute to call reluctance, but let’s approach the issue from the state of ego perspective.

Early in life, you may have learned that it is not okay to (Richo, 1991, p. 22):

  • show your real feelings
  • give or receive openly
  • ask for things directly
  • tell your opinions
  • take care of your own interests
  • say ‘No’ to what you do not want
  • act as if you deserved abundance.

These beliefs are injunctions against having power in relationships. To the extent that we internalize these beliefs, we disable ourselves and limit our own capacities to overcome developmental challenges and get what we need in life. If you have learned these lessons, you will likely act out of a fear state of ego, rather than a healthy state of ego.

Fear gives your power away and holds you in a passive state. That passivity contributes to these behaviors (Richo, 1991):

  • Refusing to express feelings, act, or decide because of what MIGHT happen to you. (The worst that that really could happen is that the person you ask to mentor you could say “no”. That’s an honest response. Clarify why the answer is no and understand that the response is due to the other person honoring their own boundaries—a skill you may personally need to develop! Then move on and ask your next best candidate for mentoring.)
  • Making excuses for others’ hurtful behavior and not dealing with them about it.
  • Over-politeness: always putting others first or letting them take your turn or disturb you without your speaking up.
  • Acting from a sense of obligation (a form of fear).
  • Smoothing over situations so that the real feelings do not emerge (from yourself or others)
  • Over-commitment: doing too much for too long for too little thanks, and when even more is asked of you, doing it dutifully.
  • Not registering your recoil from biased remarks or jokes.
  • Abandoning yourself by assessing abuse of you from the past or present as justified or “understandable”.
  • Avoiding decisive action by coping with an unsatisfactory situation or relationship or hoping it might change. WHAT WE ARE NOT CHANGING, WE ARE CHOOSING!

Here is how a healthy ego will operate (Richo, 1991, pp. 26-28):

1. Be clear. Say yes when you mean yes, no when you mean no, and maybe when you mean maybe. (Note that assertiveness means being clear, not necessarily sure.) Show your feelings, choices, and agenda openly. Check out your fantasies, doubts, fears, and intuitions with those whom they concern. Tell people it is not acceptable for them to judge, hurt, or blame you.

2. Ask for what you want. Clarify the emotional content of messages from others. Acknowledge your feelings in the interaction, and assess what you need from the other person—Nurturance? Appreciation? Constructive criticism? Or did you intend to simply vent and just need a listener?

3. Take responsibility. Accept another’s right to make assertions to you. Clarify with the other about their feelings toward you. Acknowledge your feelings. Finish your emotional unfinished business directly with the people involved or in your own therapy. Admit your mistakes, oversights, and offenses, and make amends.

Which of these perspectives sounds more like you? If the healthy ego is not your current mode of operation, print this section of the course, and carry these three steps with you and begin practicing the three steps. Even if you don’t feel like it! When you practice “as if” you are an assertive person, your brain will take the cue and begin to believe the “as if” reality! In fact, this concept can be used to turn around any negative belief you hold about yourself. The key to convincing your brain of a new positive reality is repetition and consistency. Using affirmations like those that follow, on a repeated basis, COMBINED WITH blocking out negative self-talk, can literally change your perceived reality:

  • “I can make this call.”
  • “I deserve this nurturing relationship.”
  • “I am an assertive person.”
  • “I open myself to get the support I need.”
  • “I ask for what I want from others and let the chips fall where they may.”
  • “I allow others to say ‘No’ to me and take it as information.”
  • “I drop the ‘shoulds;’ I make choices.”
  • “I always have a choice.”

The Mentee-Mentor Relationship

As you pursue the relationships, there are certain responsibilities you must honor in the relationship:

  • Be totally dedicated
  • Assess your own individual needs
  • Construct a Goal-Setting Plan
  • Take the initiative in skill development
  • Be proactive in your career development
  • Actively participate in the mentoring relationship
  • Take full advantage of the training and assistance offered
  • Accept and follow through on the mentor’s advice
  • Employ the rules of confidentiality
  • Develop and utilize the skill of professionalism in the relationship.

Tips for Holding Up Your Side of the Mentor-Mentee Relationship

To enhance the effectiveness of your relationship, follow these tips:

1. Be on time. Being late for an appointment is inconsiderate and shows lack of organization, respect and self-management. If a conflict should occur and you cannot be present or will be late, call as soon as possible, and reschedule at a mutually agreeable time.

2. Accept your mentor’s advice. If you disagree with what you are hearing, ask questions and share your reluctance to complete the activity. You may simply need clarification of the assignment, or may be missing a vital piece of information. Keep the communication honest and open at all times.

3. Be honest. Share your concerns, fears, and failures, as well as joys and successes. Your mentor needs to know all sides of you in order to help you grow. So be authentic in your sharing.

4. Maintain your journal throughout the experience. Share relevant journal entries, particularly some of the activities completed in this first course. These entries will help your mentor get the big picture of YOU and demonstrate your sincerity and commitment to the mentoring relationship.

5. Inform your mentor of relevant training and employment experience. Your mentor doesn’t want to waste your time and energy by being redundant. Openly share how you are receiving the input that is being offered.

6. Ask clarifying questions, and then listen carefully. If you need additional information, or don’t know how, to start a project, or don’t understand why a task would be useful to you, ask questions. Your mentor wants to help you but cannot read your mind! You are the only one who knows how much information you need to understand fully. Clarifying expectations shows initiative, interest, and commitment.


As you take charge of your own mentoring, you will need to do an occasional review and update of your action plan. In addition minor and major life crises and unusual opportunities will signal the need to review and update your plan. Self-mentoring also requires evaluation of progress in managing your own personal and professional development.

Completing the activities in this course will give you tools to take hold of your life and direct toward what you want it to be. Once you complete your action plan for your top five priorities, then come back to the list of mentoring needs and walk through the planning process once again, including assessing your current situation, brainstorming for appropriate mentors, setting goals and action plans. You may wish to revisit this site to assist you through that re-evaluation and process.

By choosing the mentor relationships that fit your style and developmental stage, you will enhance the quality and vitality of your mentoring mosaic. As you become more competent in managing your own mentoring, perhaps you will feel confident in assuming a mentoring role for others. In this way you can actualize the professional role by overtly displaying the characteristics “that positively represent the standards of your profession and a commitment to advancing the profession.”


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Darling, L.W., & Schatz, P.E. (1991, August). Mentoring self-management workshop for Kappa Omicron Nu Conclave.

Gray, W. A. (1986). Components for developing a successful formalized mentoring program in business, the professions, education, and other settings. In W. A. and M. M. Gray (Eds.), Proceedings of the First International Conference on Mentoring, Vol. II (pp. 15-22). Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Gelb, M. J. (1998). How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci. New York: Delacorte Press.

Herman, S.J. (1978). Becoming assertive: A guide for nurses. New York: D. Van Nostrand.

Hersey, P. (1984). The situational leader. Escondito, CA: Warner Books.

Mitstifer, D. I., Wenberg, B. G., & Schatz, P. E. (1992). Mentoring: The human touch. East Lansing, MI: Kappa Omicron Nu.

Phillips-Jones, L. (1982). Mentors and protégés. New York: Arbor House.

Richo, D. (1991). How to be an adult. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Robbins, A. (1991). Awaken the giant within. New York:Simon & Schuster.

Roberts, C. (1994).Checklist for personal values. In P. M. Senge, A. Kleiner, C. Roberts, R. B. Ross, & B. J. Smith, The fifth discipline fieldbook. NewYork: Doubleday.

Strohmeier, S. O., Bonnstetter, B., & Wentworth Drahosz, K. (1993). Mentoring for success. Scottsdale, AZ: Target Training, Intl.

Self-Managed Mentoring

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