top of page

The Importance of Mentorship

Written By: Mo Elhammady @the_business_lounge_ @moelhammady

Photo Credit:

A study done in the UK has shown that 70% of small business owners that receive mentoring survive for five years or more. This is double the rate compared with non-mentored startups, yet less than a quarter of small business owners are using a mentor! This is a fact that boggles my mind every time I think about it.

Unfortunately, the idea of mentorship is not looked at the same way as it was back in the day; and I mean way back in the day.

In ancient Greece, mentors used to impart personal and social values to young men. The word mentor itself is derived from Mentōr, a Greek character in Homer's Odyssey who acted as an advisor to Odysseus’ son as he left for Troy.

Modern mentorship is loosely modelled around those same craftsman-apprentice relationships where young persons learned the art of the craft from a master craftsman. In fact, there are many examples of famous people who have attributed their success to a mentor. Billionaire Sir Richard Branson for instance mentioned Sir Freddie Laker as his mentor who had provided valuable advice and guidance that helped in the success of Virgin Atlantic Airlines.

Most of us, at one point or another in our lives, have experienced a successful mentoring relationship. It may have come in the form of an older sibling that took you under their wing, or a teacher in school that helped guide your career, or even an experienced colleague at work showing you the ropes. Now, I know the purpose of mentorship may seem common sense and logical to most, but you might be surprised at just how beneficial mentoring relationships can be, especially in the workplace. When done right, mentoring programs can positively impact the mentee, mentors, and ultimately your organization or company as a whole.

So, what exactly is a mentor?

By definition, a mentor is a more experienced and knowledgeable person who teaches and nurtures the development of a less experienced and knowledgeable person. In an organizational setting, a mentor influences the personal and professional growth of a mentee. Most traditional mentorships involve having senior employees mentor more junior employees, but mentors don’t necessarily have to be more senior than the people they mentor. What matters is that mentors have experience that others can learn from. For example, did you know some companies have “reverse mentoring” programs? This is where younger employees share their experience using social technology with senior colleagues who may not have used these tools before. Workplace mentors might be a supervisor, colleague, someone within the organization but outside of the mentee’s chain of command, or even an individual in another organization.

Now, what does a mentor really do?

A mentor’s duties include developing and managing the mentoring relationship, sponsoring the mentee’s developmental activities, modeling effective leadership behavior, guiding and counseling, teaching, motivating, and inspiring the mentee.

Having said that, here some of the main points highlighting the importance of mentorship.


Generally speaking, a mentor will help you with reinforcing the processes of personal development: planning, learning, learning transfer, and application in the workplace.

They’ll help you identify your personal development priorities and align them with your professional goals. Mentors focus on making sure you put into practice what you’ve been learning from them, and that yo