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What Are The Five Types of Mentors You Must Have

  • Omer Usanmaz
  • July 18 2023

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

Everyone loves a good rags-to-riches story and tales about self-made people, but the untold truth is that no one goes from zero to ten without struggling in between. All these fortunate fraternities had advice from influential mentors who came before them. Those mentors did not share their guidance with their mentees to create their destination the same as their own. On the contrary, caution and information from their experience are provided to the mentees to have intel to create a successful path. In other words, the best help a mentor can provide their mentees is to guide them to find out their approach to riches.

However, not every mentor is of the same weight, shape, or involved to the same degree, just as no two fingers on your hand are of the exact requirement even though all of them are fingers. Your mentor should also be able to guide you through your needs now and when they change over time. That is why the really smart entrepreneurs have a board of mentors (board of advisors) of different qualities they can rely on and quickly tap into for direction. Some mentors they talk to every day and once in a while to the others. However, if you are to follow these entrepreneurs' paths and create your network of mentors, you have to initially know what differentiates one mentor from another and what their types are.

The Five Types of Mentors

There can be situations where any two types of mentors can be found in one as a blessing and a curse. Finding mentors who are skilled enough to be of varied quality can be fortunate, but at the same time, assuming different contradicting positions for the mentee can be counterproductive. For example, a mentor/experienced employee who tries to motivate a mentee by undertaking the mantle of a cheerleader and trying to issue some tough love to improve their effort a little further will lose the authenticity on both ends in the eyes of the mentee. So, it is clever for companies to know the following varying categories of mentors:

1- Special Counsel

Anyone and everyone who tries to do anything worthwhile will face a tough time. These times are going to be a part of everyone's journey. But the problem is that not all people will come out on the other side successfully. Some fail at least on some levels, and some miserably. And the failure will be not because of less hard work but less pragmatic work. Every problem a mentee could encounter has already been faced before. A mentor can offer these experiences of issues and demanding situations of both personal and professional growth.

A special counsel type of mentor is the one who gives advice, recommendations, and suggestions through their experience for companies and individuals. A special counsel is much closer to a coach. This senior executive (they are often) offers advice to be better informed on the project, protocol and initiatives. Special counsel mentors will have seniority on the companies the mentees start their career direction in, and this seniority helps them to inform their juniors better. Special mentorship is the most conventional mentorship program that people remember when listening to mentors.

2- Advocate

The professional landscape is cutthroat. Here people are trying to get advantage and development any way they can. Some even connect the strategy to do so with the ancient Roman war strategy of building an edifice bigger than others or bringing all other ones down to make themself as the premier one. However, everyone you have will not be like this. You ought to have people in your life who will support and encourage your success genuinely without having a hidden agenda.

The advocate type of mentor is the one who is your cheerleader. This aspirational mentor will support you and will have your back. They advocate for you on your cause and ideas within the company or among other companies. This mentorship is necessary to be had by all personnel in all stages of their career.

3- Challenger

Challenger is the opposite of what a cheerleader is. Let's put it this way, the idea in this sort of mentoring culture is not mental health. These types of mentors are placed in your network to provide the truth objectively without sugar-coating it. They are there to give zeros and ones without any emotional weight. They will pick out the XYZs of your projects and ideas, which will be unidentified in the eyes of other mentors. Mentees want someone who will be positively provoked and provoke them forward in their career development.

Challenger types of mentors are nothing short of a devil's advocate, who will pick their mentees' projects and ideas apart before anybody else will. With this mentor type, the intention will always be to push and challenge the mentees for more enormous achievements and brighter future roles. Challenger types of mentors will not use their authority to move you too fast too soon. They will challenge you just right to keep you on your toes. Also, the intention here will never be to discount the mentees' opinions but to reinforce them with facts and objective reviews.

4- Connector

Under these types of mentors fall some of the essential people a mentee should be involved with. Connector types of mentors help the mentees improve their skills by strengthening their circle. They will help their mentees connect with the right people who will be influential and necessary for their career development. Connectors have a wide range of deep networks of important contact that they can use to help their mentees. Some of these contacts may be of their other or former mentees, so connecting mentees with one another enables them to have enforced crucial business relationships that create mutual development.

With the extensive network of a connector, a mentee can have their career expedited. If not for these mentors, the promotion or fresh opportunities can take a long time to get hold of. But with such an influential network (thanks to the mentors), they can have significant movement in their vocation faster than they could have achieved on their own. And it doesn't just stop with brokering new opportunities with these mentors; they also connect their mentees with the right expert to help acquire a particular skill (like digital skills etc.) and any other gap in knowledge.

5- Wingman

Wingman or peer mentors are coworkers/people who hold the same position as you and provide a sort of a mutual guidance mentorship program. Because your peer mentors are on the same level in the hierarchy as you are, they will experience the same problem as you do in real-time and therefore solve the issue through sharing the intel. This program is a mutually beneficial program for both parties holistically. However, the wingman types of mentors are the most overlooked mentorship in this list, which should not be the case as both parties bring different expertise to the table and, therefore, diverse learning opportunities (also the layout helps improve soft skills).

Wingman or peer mentoring is cited by many experts in various companies/industries as a beneficial onboarding program. This is because an effective peer mentor enforces collaboration and early connections among the juniors, which will enhance the company culture. In most organizations, one-third of the new joiners quit within six months, this will be due to them not being able to find their palace in the company, but with wingman mentorship, this issue can also be resolved.

Types of Mentoring

Companies/entrepreneurs of both nascent or mature stages trying to leverage a formal mentoring program for their career goals should also understand the different types of mentoring program approaches that one can take.





One-on-One Mentoring

A single mentee and a mentor enter into a mentoring relationship with the objective of imparting guidance and support from the mentor's expertise.

In this effective mentoring program, the mentee benefits from acquiring the guidance directly for their career development.

Group Mentoring

A group of mentees and a mentor enter into a mentoring relationship with the objective of imparting guidance and support from the mentor's expertise.

In this concept of mentoring, a group of mentees is positively impacted by the mentor at the same time. This program is recommended if there is a shortage of mentors and time

Team Mentoring

A group of mentees and a group of mentors enter into a mentoring relationship with the objective of imparting guidance for improving career outcomes through the mentor's expertise.

In this type of mentorship, different requirements and needs of the mentees are supported. It is best to promote diversity and enable multiple ranges of perspectives.

Virtual Mentoring

A single mentee and mentor enter into a mentoring relationship through virtual communication with the objective of imparting guidance for improving career decisions through the mentor's expertise.

In virtual mentoring, the mentor and mentee need not necessarily be in the same place. It removes the restriction of location, and it is very suited for the post-pandemic workplace.

Reverse Mentoring

This mentoring relationship is the same as the one-to-one mentoring, but here a junior person mentors a senior person with the objective of imparting two-way guidance and support from both parties involved.

In reverse mentoring, the senior and junior employees of the companies can learn from each other. It is best for today's landscape where fresh new ideas must be competitive.


To Wrap It Up

Mentors make a fundamental difference in many people's professional development and leadership development, as people with mentors statistically do better than people without. Mentees under the tutelage of a mentor/mentors can expedite the journey than they do it on their own. But all mentors are not the same. A different form of mentoring, much like types of mentors, offers diverse and unique benefits for a mentee, as made clear by the above list. Therefore, it is always wise and highly recommended to have a network of mentors for knowledge sharing and providing guidance (with their wealth of knowledge) to resolve one's conflicts to career path desired and improve career development opportunities. 


In conclusion, having a diverse and well-rounded set of mentors is crucial for personal and professional growth in any organization. Each type of mentor brings unique strengths and perspectives to the table, making them essential for different aspects of one's journey. The guidance and support from mentors with exemplary leadership skills empower individuals to develop their potential and contribute significantly to achieving organizational goals. Additionally, mentoring software has revolutionized the mentorship landscape, making it more accessible and efficient than ever before. Junior teams benefit immensely from the wisdom and experience of senior employees, leading to increased employee retention and engagement as well as satisfaction. With various types of mentorship available, individuals can seize growth opportunities at every stage of their careers, fostering a culture of continuous personal development within the organization. By embracing the five types of mentors discussed, individuals can thrive in their professional endeavors and make lasting contributions to their teams and the organization as a whole. 


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