Mentoring Men

Comparing mentoring women (of which I do a little) and mentoring men (of which I do a lot) I have found a great deal to be similar. Many issues are common to our shared humanity and mentoring processes tend to be more or less effective according to a range of factors of which gender is only one. Mentoring partnerships vary because of both the mentor’s and the mentoree’s age, personality, life experience, ethnicity, theological convictions, education and many other factors. 

However, insofar as gender does, to some extent, influence a mentoring partnership, these are the items I have observed are more common in terms of content, and more effective in terms of process, when dealing with men. Bear in mind that I am writing as a male; the experience may be different for female mentors of men.

1.  Content of mentoring conversations

  • Maturity: transition from ‘lad’ to ‘man’ – this issue can persist well into mid-life
    • Categories of maturity
      • Handling stress
      • Being appropriately assertive
      • Taking on responsibility
      • Perseverance
      • Keeping promises
      • Self-awareness
      • Emotional self-restraint
      • Handling conflict
      • Capacity for reflection
      • Receiving criticism
      • Wise prioritisation of values
      • Readiness to laugh at oneself
    • Key exercise: In the matter of X, a lad would… but a mature man would…
    • Richard Rohr’s 5 truths that a man needs to grasp:
      • Life is hard
      • You are going to die
      • You are not that important
      • You are not in control
      • Your life is not about you
  • Performance vs personhood
    • Performance
      • What am I cut out to do?
      • What could I achieve / have I achieved? 
      • What could I acquire / have I acquired?
    • Personhood
      • What are my key character qualities?
      • What sort of person have I become? 
      • Who am I becoming?
    • Work / life balance
      • Source of significance
      • The attraction of the locus of competency
  • Relationships (as applicable)
    • Husband / father
    • Son / brother
    • Friend
  • Sexuality and gender
    • Acknowledging sexuality without letting it dominate
    • Pornography and other forms of fake intimacy
    • Caution interacting with women in the post-#MeToo context
    • Understanding maleness beyond the stereotypes

2.  Processes used in mentoring conversations

  • Foundation of mutual respect
  • Intentionality
    • Clarity of purpose
    • Structured arrangements
    • Intensity: intellectually and emotionally
    • Continuity of themes
  • Consequential conversations
    • Going beyond reflective exercises
    • Accurate, intentional follow up
  • Use of mentoring tools – four simple examples
    • Red/Blue/Green zones
    • Energy Centres
    • Life Dimensions
    • A win, a slip, a worry, a possibility, a decision, a truth
  • Strategies for overcoming reticence
    • Side by side physically and metaphorically
    • Activity together
    • Locations attached to memories
  • Strategies for overcoming lack of self-awareness
    • If married, getting wife’s perspective
    • If employed, access formal review
    • Help construct feedback pathways

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