Let the mentee know that the first step to establishing an effective mentoring relationship is for the mentee to slowly expose his or her weaknesses to enable you to focus your efforts on better equipping the mentee for independence and success.  In other words, the mentee’s guard has to come down to enable the mentee to be re-built – better and stronger.  There are five reasons why vulnerability or brokenness is essential. 

  • First, brokenness prepares the mentee to receive instruction and feedback better from you as the pieces are put back together. 
  • Second, brokenness makes the mentee more honest and open to change. The mentee is willing to sacrifice because what the mentee wants most is greater than the moment. 
  • Third, brokenness requires the mentee to confront the past and any baggage related to it that prevents progress.  In order for you to meaningfully assist the mentee’s development, you must be aware of actual or perceived issues that are critical to you assessing the situation and developing an action plan.  The mentee must describe symptoms to you in detail as if you were a physician so that the proper diagnosis can be made and treatment prescribed. 
  • Fourth, early and accurate diagnoses of things often lead to better long term results. 
  • Fifth, brokenness helps the mentee to mature to a new level of relationship and leadership because through the process the mentee gains a fresh, different perspective of life and learning.

Those unwilling to accept the burden and expose themselves in this manner over time may not be ready to experience the benefits of your time and resources.  On the other hand, those who do may warrant further consideration and screening. Is the mentee willing to be held accountable? I’ll provide insights on accountability in mentoring next.  Stay tuned.




Vaughn McKoy's picture
What are the attributes of a great mentor in business? Also, what are the attributes a mentor looks for in a mentee when deciding whether to invest time and resources in him or her? I'd like to hear your thoughts on these.

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