How many different types of mentoring are there?

There are many different types of mentoring. For ease, we list them under three different categories:

Power Mentoring and network mentoring

The traditional, out-of-date, ‘fat cat’, guru-style mentoring, where an older, wiser, more experienced individual guides another younger, less skillful, less experienced ‘Mentee’. For example:“Mentoring is a close relationship between two people where the Mentor guides and assists the Menteeto a level of personal and professional or business excellence not previously achieved.”


“No one mentor can cover anyone’s whole waterfront…”

So really skilled and successful Mentees combine this traditional form of mentoring, with building up an effective network of fellow entrepreneurs and business mentors they ‘call on’ regularly. Increasingly, they bring this ‘tribe’ formally together to form a new-style board. [Form link when live]

“Today having multiple mentors is necessary because so much is changing around us. No one person can coach others in all the domains of a complex workplace.”

“The success of a company depends on its tribes.”

Peer mentoring or reciprocal mentoring

Is an emerging form of mentoring where two ‘innocent’ peers, or ‘as-if’ peers, each mentor each other – asking, ‘dumb’ questions of each other, and then mutually finding answers. Research shows, particularly for students, this is highly effective mentoring. However in reality most of this research is a variant of Power Mentoring, where the ‘peer’ is actually a year or two ahead. Rather than studying the same course, at the same time.

Personal or Self-mentoring

The whole trend of modern mentoring is towards personal, self-directed, self-owned mentoring. Or what we might call self-mentoring.

This self-directed learning may, or may not, be facilitated by a professional mentor. The emphasis here is not just on learning, but learning how to ‘teach one’s self.’

The growth of the internet, search engines, social media, digital technologies, Universities on line, self-learning modules, are all making it possible for self-learning and mentoring to grow exponentially – creating a massive new paradigm about what it means to be ‘educated’.

“Increasingly it’s not what we know, but how to find out what we need to know, when we need it, that’s vital.”

Styles of mentoring changing

In addition, the styles of mentoring are changing considerably:

Old view of mentoring

  • You are either a Mentor or a Mentee
  • A Mentor is always more senior and more experienced than the Mentee.
  • The Mentor structures and drives the relationship.
  • Mentoring is a formal relationship.
  • Mentoring is a recognizable process.

New view of mentoring

  • You are both Mentor and Mentee at the same time – mentoring is a two-way street
  • A Mentor is anyone from whom you can learn. Peer to peer mentoring is highly effective.
  • The Mentee drives and ‘owns’ the relationship
  • Mentoring continues to change, is often organic, and has many formal and informal aspects.
  • Mentoring is always contextual – changing as the situation changes




Helping managers avoid mentoring traps Traps to avoid in the mentoring process Test your mentor