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Co-mentoring: A Mutually Beneficial Learning Relationship

leadership mentoring Feb 12, 2011

When it comes to professional development, mentoring is a popular subject. Co-mentoring is about establishing mutually beneficial learning relationships among our colleagues and friends.

Rather than look “up” in the organization or further “out” of our immediate network the way we typically do, we can also look at the people in our more immediate circle and become curious about what we can learn from each other. Co-mentorships add more diversity to our developmental network and that means more varied learning and growth.

Jone Rymer in her article “Only Connect” defines a co-mentorship as “a mutual mentorship of a pair of close, collegial friends committed to facilitating each other’s development.” Reflecting on this definition, three distinct themes of co-mentoring emerge – reciprocal, power balanced and holistic.

➤ Reciprocal.  Both people are committed to each other’s development and there is a back and forth exchange between the two that leads to mutual growth and learning. While this may be true of many traditional mentoring relationships, it is an inherent quality in co-mentoring. The partners enter into the relationship knowing from the onset that it is one of giving and receiving explicitly.

➤ Power-Balanced. There is no hierarchy in the terms colleagues and friends. Co-mentoring partners are simultaneously mentees and mentors to each other, weaving back and forth between the roles sometimes openly, often seamlessly, with a focus on providing support for each other.

➤ Holistic. Reciprocity and balanced power create a safe space to bring one’s whole self to the relationship. The co-mentoring partners support both personal and professional aspects of their lives, openly sharing their triumphs and their woes knowing that they are in a judgment-free zone.

The best part is that we have an abundant supply of co-mentors. These are the people we are close to already and can access easily. So have a look around. Who are your co-mentors? How will a co-mentoring relationship enhance your developmental network?

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