Accepting the mantle of mentoring

By Lorentz Forsberg

“Read this… and then we can talk”. Those were the very first words my new colleague said on my first day at work. He placed a pile of papers from a South African organization on my desk. Of course I did as he asked. I realized as I read that I could not have had a better introduction to the exciting, yet chaotic and frustrating story of human and organizational change. It was so personal that it smelled of mother’s cooking and father’s shaving. It touched my heart. I also realized that I had found a soul mate in my new colleague. He became my mentor.

Almost 20 years on, I now see how much that mentoring relationship profoundly shaped who I am at work today. Many of my flaws and vulnerabilities are still there – and I might even have added a few – but the core belief in the deep meaning of development has been nurtured and become embedded into my being. That is the greatest gift I received from my mentor.

Now, in my early 40´s I’m slowly realizing that I am in a position to mentor others. And as I look around, I see many others who should be mentoring our energetic recruits. We may think we have nothing to offer, but we do. Remember, the beginning of a beautiful mentorship can be as simple as: “Read this”.

What would be the first thing you put in the hands of a new employee? (but please not your annual report!)
Who could you be mentoring? How might you make it happen?

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