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Two types of Mentors

The working of all organisations can be broken into two categories.

First, the general working which is 90% of the working and aspects this is more or less common to all organisations. Finance, planning, quality, sales, etc.

The other is the business of the Business which involves the specific and unique aspects of the organisation which involves about 10% of the working. This is the technical aspect of the business.

So if one is seeking a mentor, then one may choose one of two types.

1. Specialist

2. Generalist

Specialists are valued for their input on their technical expertise.

Specialisation means a relatively narrow but deep understanding of a particular subject. Bringing that expertise to bear provides that 'zing' so essential for success and industry leadership.

Specialists have much to offer but they tend to think and work in isolation like they operate on an island. There is also a tendency to believe that their specialisation is supreme in the scheme of things in an organisation.

Then there is the matter of most organisations being unable to afford the services of an external mentor/specialist for each discipline.

Yet all experts and Specialists have to work in synchronisation to make for a successful venture. This is why a generalist is vital.

A Generalist is someone with the capacity to step out of a particular area of expertise to integrate the various and contradictory demands of the various branches of an organisation.

A Generalist may have experience and capabilities across several disciplines. They too make good mentors but of a different kind.

A good Generalist mentor is like the conductor of an orchestra, guiding each player to play together with other players to produce great music and results. Yet the conductor himself does not play any instrument at that time.

An analysis by the entrepreneur or organisation's leadership must make an important decision on what type of mentor/s they need and can afford, before engaging with one.

To get the best bang for the buck, leadership of an organisation or team requires Generalists.

No matter what choice is made, every senior colleague including the management leaders must do a fair amount of mentoring. This is materially beneficial and therapeutic for both mentees and mentors. This is vital for the long-term growth and success of an organisation.


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