by Diana Wilson, SR4
Mentoring has always been a vital part of education in Toastmasters. Each club approaches mentoring in a different way. There are casual mentors that take new members under their wing and help them learn the ins and outs of club membership. This kind of mentor is an integral part of any club. They are the ones that keep new members coming back. This is a role that can be taken on by any seasoned member of a club.
But there is a more advanced type of mentorship that is directly connected to Pathways. As each person in Pathways completes level two of their chosen path, another bonus pathway opens up. The Pathways Mentor Program pathway. This is a free pathway that is available for those interested in learning how to be a better mentor.
As a newly elected VP Education I decided to take this path and learn what it was all about. It is basically three assignments that go in-depth into how to be a great mentor and protege. The first section is a self-assessment. This is where you examine your own goals and plan how to reach them. By finding out what you want and how to get there, you can better guide others. This also helps you determine what kind of protege you would work best with.
The second lesson is all about working with a protege. Setting your boundaries. Discovering if you and they are committed to this relationship. Learning how to define that relationship for both of you. In this lesson, you will take on a protege for a single project or goal. You commit to helping them meet that goal. My project is to help a member prepare for a particularly difficult speech. There is a lot of paperwork and steps in this part of the path. But the education I am receiving on how to be a good mentor is priceless.
The last and final step of this path is to make a commitment to be a mentor to someone for six months. This is not something to be taken lightly. You will be using all the skills you learned in the previous two steps to pick the right protege for you. If at any time during the six months of mentoring, either of you back out, you must start the six-month commitment part all over again with a new person. This forces you to carefully consider who you choose to work with. Who will stick with you as you walk through this journey together? The mentor and protege are a team.
I can see how this level of commitment would cause some people to hesitate to take this path. It is not a path for everyone. But for those who aspire to teach, coach, guide, and be of service to others, the lessons learned will help you down the road. I highly recommend this path to anyone that is interested in the Effective Coaching path and anyone who wants to enhance their leadership role, whether in Toastmasters or in their professional life.