When we think about mentoring in businesses, we rightly think of male executives mentoring younger women in navigating their career trajectories; watching for potential obstacles, challenging stereotypes and promoting themselves. Often, men feel ‘left out’ of the mentoring discussion, as if men can only mentor women, and only women need mentors. I think both of those equations are too narrow. Men can mentor other men. Many men need and want mentors. And, these days, senior women can mentor men as well.
Let's take the classic formula first: senior male mentor and younger male mentee. The male mentor has the experience to know the topography of the company from the inside, to identify potential obstacles, and to encourage men in building their career trajectories one rung at a time. While for women this might mean ramping up their ambitions and putting themselves forward, with male mentees it might also mean tempering one's enthusiasm, and being more prudent and thoughtful in the spacing the rungs of that ladder. Not too fast, not too steep, lest one alienate one's colleagues.
However, male mentees also can participate in reverse mentoring. After all, younger male workers enter companies these days with a profile quite similar to that of female workers. Both young men and young women want to have great careers, and they also want to be awesome parents! They both want and expect to be able to balance work and family. They want to be there for their children, want to spend more time with their families, and, with almost all of them having spouses who also work, they may both struggle with balancing work and family obligations.