"Every relationship has a power dimension which can serve to disempower one member or it can serve to empower both members." ~ Anonymous
Understanding the influence of power within a mentoring relationship is important, especially when the mentoring relationship is experiencing difficulties. Realistically, if a mentoree is paired with a powerful and well-known mentor, can the mentoree really afford to fail? Not really. If this is true, then the mentoree may spend more time trying to please the mentor rather than providing honest feedback, taking risks, and focusing on developing professionally and personally.
Likewise, a mentor who dismisses the influence of power or minimizes its impact may wonder why the mentoree is so agreeable or not forthcoming. The mentor may view that as the mentoree's failure rather than exploring whether the mentor's power is affecting the mentoree's ability to be more forthright.
- Expertise based upon experience/knowledge/skill
- Position within the organization
- Access to resources and information
- Influence within and outside the organization
- Boundaries that protect, set limits, or violate another party
- Affirm and strengthen the mentoree's self-image and self-confidence, or the opposite
- Confirms or enhances the reputation of the mentor
- Emulates/models behavior of the mentor
- Has information/knowledge/experience different from the mentor
- Expands and/or builds networks within and outside the organization between mentor and others
- Appreciates the mentor's efforts, which can lead to greater investment in the mentoree's goals by the mentor
Bottom line: both parties should be aware of the power they bring to the relationship—and make every effort not to abuse that power.