Roles and Stances of an Effective Mentor

Consulting / Collaborating / Coaching (The 3Cs) at a Glance

In their book Mentoring Matters: A Practical Guide to Learning-Focused Relationships Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman describe a practical framework for mentors to consider. The chart below provides an at a glance guide to the 3Cs adapted with permission from their work. While these 3Cs are helpful as a frame, effective mentors demonstrate flexibility of stance and role based on the needs of the people they support. Mentoring relationships that flourish are reciprocal – all parties learn and grow!


Offering Support and Providing Resources


  • Mentor shares key information about logistics, school or work site culture, policies and practices
  • Beyond simple advice, a consultant provides the “why,” “what,” and “how” of their thinking


  • Credible voice / Use of pronoun “I” / Phrases like “it’s important to”…. “keep in mind that”


  • We tend to default to this stance / Overuse can build dependency on the mentor

Creating Challenge and Encouraging Growth


  • Mentor and colleague co-develop strategies and approaches
  • 50/50 pattern of interaction and idea production


  • Confident, approachable voice / Use of pronoun “we” / Phrases like “let’s think about”…. “how might we”


  • Mentors need to ensure collaboration is authentic and they don’t take over

Facilitating Professional Vision


  • Mentor supports internal idea production through inquiry and paraphrase
  • Ultimate aim is to develop colleague’s internal resources for self-coaching and independence


  • Approachable voice, attending fully / Use of pronoun “you”
  • Questions like “what might be some ways to?”.... “given all that you know, what options are you considering?”


  • Stance can cause frustration if colleague lacks internal resources for idea generation

Overview of the 3C's (2 min 5 sec)

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