Mentoring: Your Competitive Advantage

Mentoring: Your Competitive Advantage

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” - Steven Spielberg

When we work in organizational culture change, our clients initially focus on the new concepts and tools in our responsibility-based model. To many, these are unconventional and thought-provoking. What they don’t always realize is that mentoring is where the rubber hits the road. Mentoring helps people review, practice and apply what they’ve learned and integrate it into the day-to-day practices of the business.


Not only is regular mentoring for everyone important; it is critical for success.

 Without it, people end up reverting to control-based behaviors. Leaders go back to managing, motivating, shaming or pampering others; trying to get them to engage and take responsibility. Others then reduce their commitment to task ownership (managing one’s relationships, productivity, engagement and plan), which creates internal motivation and fulfillment.

 Mentoring in a responsibility-based culture has the following purposes and characteristics: To help people with emotional intelligence - self and social awareness, AND self and social management. To us, mentoring is not when one skilled, experienced or talented person teaches another person who is not. This is about mutual support, encouragement and can be delivered in a reciprocal, reverse manner. In other words, a 30-year veteran could mentor a college graduate, new hire and he or she then mentors the veteran in return. This mentoring is also based in asking what and how questions to help the one being mentored to revisit his or her responsibilities for effectively handling all key aspects of their life and work.


Here are some of the pitfalls we warn against when using a personal responsibility mentoring approach:

 1.      Do not slip into story-telling, advice or conversation (this is not therapy, emotional venting, or advisement)

2.      Do not “wing it” or add topics that have nothing to do with task ownership as defined in a responsibility-based model. Use intentionally designed templates.

3.      Do not focus on why and who questions; instead focus on what and how questions – such as “what is your plan to fix that?” “What tool could you apply?” “How will you accomplish that?”

4.      Do not veer off course or become diverted; be intentional to a clear process and outcome.

5.      Do not ignore avoidant language or behaviors. These are opportunities for growth.

6.      Do not interject your own agenda or needs. Everything is for and about the person mentored.

7.      Manage a 30m monthly mentoring efficiently.

8.      Make sure you also receive mentoring.

9.      Say little; instead ask questions (Socratic) that lead to awareness AND resolution.


People function at their best when they feel empowered, lovable, connected and contributing. They only feel these when you consistently listen to them, draw out their wisdom, have faith in them, offer them recognition, guide them to tools they’ve learned, and encourage them, every single month.


Mentoring helps people pick up responsibility successfully, so each feels his or her personal power and influence. All of this expands human potential.


About Judy Ryan

Judy Ryan has been CEO and founder of LifeWork Systems, an award-winning training and consulting company specializing in culture transformation since 2002. She is author of the book, “What’s the Deal With Workplace Culture Change?”, a columnist on Emotional Intelligence in The Women’s Journals, a columnist on The Extraordinary Workplace in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, and a columnist on 21st Century Systems for Hispanic Chamber of St. Louis. Judy is also a human systems developer and consultant, trainer, coach, and keynote presenter, with guest appearances on TV, podcasts and radio.

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems?

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Judy Ryan and Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize that a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability. We have created assessments, a digital online training platform, processes, and systems integration to create the winning ticket for your business. Take our culture assessment and schedule your first consult session at no cost.  You can also contact Judy at 314-239-4727 or  

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