December 15, 2022

A key factor in mentoring and professional supervision – Tranparency

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Transparency as a Mentee

We have been thinking a lot about the value of transparency here at Verve Lead. Transparency is an essential requirement in mentorships and professional supervision. In our last blog, we looked specifically at how a mentor can build transparency on their end. Today, we’ll flip to focus on how a mentee can build transparency. 

Being a mentee is already a vulnerable position to be in—we offer our most authentic and honest selves to a second person, trusting that they will help us see things in ourselves that we cannot see on our own. Without transparency, the relationship doesn’t work; we are only presenting a mask, the face we present to everyone. We won’t learn anything about ourselves unless we are willing to share some truly vulnerable things. 

As a mentee what helps to build transparency in the relationship?

The burden of responsibility to create a safe space that allows for transparency lies largely on the mentor or supervisor in this relationship. As the professional in this situation, they should understand the implications, both legal and emotional, of breaching trust or boundaries (read last week’s blog on Transparency in Mentors for more). However, the responsibility to make the most of the sessions is on the mentee. As a mentee, you can decide what you want to divulge, and when. The more transparent you are, the more effective the sessions become. 

Outside of the sessions, the mentee is often a leader in the community. In that role, they bear enormous responsibility to the people in their sphere. It is their responsibility to care for their own well-being in order to care better for those around them. It benefits not only the mentee, but their community, to be transparent. 

If you are entering a mentoring relationship as a mentee, here are some things to consider:

  • Leaders are guarded: Leaders are influential. Our community looks to us as an example of how to live life. It can seem as if everyone around us is watching us, almost as if they are waiting for us to mess up (or so it can feel). Because of this, we have to be careful with whom we share our private life or certain privileged information. Of course, we want to live honestly and openly with those around us, but boundaries are also necessary to create a safe environment for everyone involved. Because of this essential practice, it can be difficult to switch gears in a mentoring relationship; to remember that we are in a safe space free of judgment. 
  • Impostor syndrome: Almost everyone experiences imposter syndrome, and often the more we succeed, the more influence we have, the more we feel like a fraud. This can cause leaders to avoid overfamiliarity and vulnerability. We worry that if those around us know the “real me” they might lose respect for us. This feeling is hard to shake. Remember, we are human, wrestling with the struggles all humans share. If we can’t let our hair down with a trusted mentor, in a setting designed for honesty, then when can we? 
  • Care for others: Being a leader is akin to being a father/mother in many ways. We wouldn’t and shouldn’t ask our “children” to take on tasks or responsibilities that are meant for us. As an example, parents in a divorce may treat children like adults, expecting them to care for them in their grief. They may try to get them to collude against their ex. Adults need to be adults. Leaders similarly need to be responsible for those they are leading. But…leaders still need someone to help them. This is why mentors are so important. Who’s caring for the carers? Who’s pastoring the pastors?

Reflection Questions for Mentees:

  • Have past relationships caused me not to trust?
  • When have I felt betrayal? How has that impacted my relationships today? 
  • Do I battle with rejection? 
  • How transparent am I with my mentor?
  • Where was I guarded when I didn’t need to be?

link – mentor Q is assessing competencies as a mentor

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