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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to define and describe the mentoring mindset in a protégé. The central research question was: What constitutes a mentoring mindset in a protégé who is poised to receive maximum benefits from a mentoring relationship, as described by the mentor? Design/methodology/approach – A phenomenological approach was used to conduct this study. Interviews were conducted with veteran school principals who were trained mentors, assigned and paired with newly appointed principals for a year of mentoring. The identification of the phenomenon of the mentoring mindset of the protégé was derived from the mentors’ perspectives of their protégés’ behaviors, dispositions, attitudes, and competencies, as they were conveyed in the research interviews. Findings – A definition of the protégé's mentoring mindset was created after analysis of the interview data, and indicators of the presence and absence of the mindset were formulated into a Protégé Mentoring Mindset Framework that provides information on protégé competencies. The protégé with a mentoring mindset takes initiative, possesses a learning orientation, has a goal orientation, is relational and reflective. Conversely, the protégé who does not have a mentoring mindset lacks initiative, lacks a learning orientation, a goal orientation, and is not relational or reflective. Research limitations/implications – One limitation of the study is that it only gathered the perceptions of the mentor, but the protégé is the one being described. This, however, is consistent with other studies of protégé competencies. The study was conducted with a specific population (school principals) in a southern state of the USA. Hence, it cannot be assumed to be generalizable to other populations or fields of study. Replication of this research in other settings is suggested, so that the Framework can be further affirmed, disconfirmed, or augmented. Implications of this research could be that the Mentoring Mindset Framework can be used for considering the varied competencies of the protégé, and can be used in both mentor and protégé training. Originality/value – To this researcher's knowledge, there has not been a Protégé Mentoring Mindset Framework of competencies created in mentoring research.
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The Prote
´mentoring mindset:
a framework for consideration
Linda J. Searby
Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to define and describe the mentoring mindset in a prote
The central research question was: What constitutes a mentoring mindset in a prote
´who is poised to
receive maximum benefits from a mentoring relationship, as described by the mentor?
Design/methodology/approach – A phenomenological approach was used to conduct this study.
Interviews were conducted with veteran school principals who were trained mentors, assigned and
paired with newly appointed principals for a year of mentoring. The identification of the phenomenon
of the mentoring mindset of the prote
´was derived from the mentors’ perspectives of their prote
behaviors, dispositions, attitudes, and competencies, as they were conveyed in the research interviews.
Findings – A definition of the prote
´’s mentoring mindset was created after analysis of the interview
data, and indicators of the presence and absence of the mindset were formulated into a Prote
Mentoring Mindset Framework that provides information on prote
´competencies. The prote
amentoring mindset takes initiative, possesses a learning orientation, has a goal orientation, is
relational and reflective. Conversely, the prote
´who does not have a mentoring mindset lacks
initiative, lacks a learning orientation, a goal orientation, and is not relational or reflective.
Research limitations/implications – One limitation of the study is that it only gathered the
perceptions of the mentor, but the prote
´is the one being described. This, however, is consistent with
other studies of prote
´competencies. The study was conducted with a specific population (school
principals) in a southern state of the USA. Hence, it cannot be assumed to be generalizable to other
populations or fields of study. Replication of this research in other settings is suggested, so that the
Framework can be further affirmed, disconfirmed, or augmented. Implications of this research could
be that the Mentoring Mindset Framework can be used for considering the varied competencies of the
´, and can be used in both mentor and prote
Originality/value – To this researcher’s knowledge, there has not been a Prote
´Mentoring Mindset
Framework of competencies created in mentoring research.
Keywords Conceptual framework, Adult learning, Competency assessment,
Professional development and mentoring, Prote
´competencies, Educational leadership,
Leadership preparation, Learning and development, Mentoring mindset, New principal,
Paper type Research paper
Significant research exists about the critical role that a school principal plays in the life
and health of a school community. Research by Leithwood et al. (2004) found that
principal leadership accounts for about 20 per cent of the school’s impact on student
achievement, second only to the impact of teachers. The last decade has brought
increased accountability pressures on principals, along with demands to demonstrate
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received 20 April 2014
Revised 25 May 2014
9 July 2014
2 September 2014
6 September 2014
Accepted 6 September 2014
International Journal of Mentoring
and Coaching in Education
Vol. 3 No. 3, 2014
pp. 255-276
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.11 08/IJMCE -04-20 14-0012
r2014 Linda J. Searby
The author wishes to thank her first research colleague, Dr Jenny Tripses, with whom she
began work on prote
´ship in 2007, and her mentors, Dr Lois Zachary and Professor Frances
Kochan, who have served as reflective partners as she processed the meaning of the data
collected in this research. Additionally, the author thanks Professor Andrew Hobson, Editor of
IJMCE and Pat Ashby, Associate Editor, as well as anonymous reviewers, for their detailed and
helpful suggestions given throughout the review and revision process.
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instructional leadership that results in continuous improvement in student outcomes.
Almost all studies about successful school improvement point to “the need for strong,
academically-focussed principal leadership” (Calman, 2010, p. 17). New principals,
however, are often “thrown into their jobs without a lifejacket” (National Association of
Elementary School Principals, 2003, p. 8), unprepared for the heightened expectations
of the instructional leadership position. New principals have many stressful adjustments
to make when beginning the position, including the need to master technical skills;
address demands from an array of constituents; overcome feelings of inadequacy; adapt
to the fast pace of schools; and most of all, deal with the isolation that is often felt (Villani,
2006). New principals thus need support to meet the challenges of leadership in the high-
stakes environment of public education.
One of the most vital support strategies for new principals is professional
mentoring provided by experienced principals (Ehrich et al., 2004; Lovely, 2004; Parylo
et al., 2012). It is recommended that new principals receive extensive mentoring
“so that they can enter schools confident in their ability to foster a strong learning
community and be sensitive to the culture they are joining” (Villani, 2006, p. 5). This
need has been taken seriously by at least 32 states in the USA, which now mandate
new principal mentoring through legislation or policy (Alsbury and Hackmann, 2006).
School districts are responding with mentoring programs for new principals, following
either the models set forth by their respective states or creation of their own in-district
mentoring plans.
As mentoring programs for new principals become normative, it is imperative that
both experienced principal mentors and novice principal prote
´s become familiar
with effective mentoring processes through training and professional development.
One foundational tenet of mentoring is that it should be viewed as a learning
partnership between the mentor and prote
´(Zachary, 2012). While a mentor brings
wisdom and experience from years in the principalship, new principals brings fresh
ideas gleaned from experiences as students in a preservice preparation program and as
teacher leaders, as well as expectations that they will learn as they go. The concept of
the mentor as all-wise sage and the prote
´as a passive recipient of the mentor’s
wisdom is changing to the new paradigm of the prote
´as initiator of the relationship
and the one responsible for setting the learning goals for the mentoring partnership.
That is, “the learner – the prote
´– plays an active role in the learning, sharing
responsibility for the priorities, learning, and resources, and becoming increasingly
self-directed in the process” (Zachary, 2012, p. 3). It would behoove a new principal to
know how to enter the mentoring relationship with the proper mindset, but there
is little research on what constitutes a mentoring mindset in prote
´s who are poised
to glean the maximum benefits from a mentoring relationship (Tripses and Searby, 2008).
Thus, there is a need to fill a gap in the research on new principal mentoring, specifically
focussing on how a prote
´needs to be prepared for mentoring relationships.
The purpose for conducting this research was to define the phenomenon of
amentoring mindset in new principals as described by their mentors, and to identify
the characteristics of those who are poised to receive the maximum benefits from a
mentoring relationship. The paper begins with a brief review of the literature to form
the backdrop for the development of the mentoring mindset concept. The research
design and procedures are then described, followed by a report of the findings
and description of the Prote
´Mentoring Mindset Framework which resulted from the
research. The paper concludes with a discussion and recommendations for mentoring
in educational leadership.
Review of the literature
This study is set in an intersection of three concepts from research literature which will
be reviewed here. First, an overview of new principal mentoring is presented, followed
by an explanation of the concept of mindset, in general, to set the stage for defining the
phenomenon of a mentoring mindset. Finally, the literature on prote
´competencies is
explored, as the findings of this study contribute to the thin body of research in this
sub-category of mentoring.
New principal mentoring
Mentoring for new principals has received greater attention in the USA since the
accountability pressures of the 2002 No Child Left Behind legislation raised school-
performance stakes higher for all school administrators (Alsbury and Hackmann,
2006). The pressure has further increased with the backdrop of recent research studies
evidencing the relationship of key leadership behaviors to positive effects on student
achievement (Hallinger and Heck, 2010; Leithwood and Jantzi, 2005; Marzano et al.,
2005; Robinson et al., 2008; Seashore Louis et al., 2010). University educational leadership
preparation programs have been redesigned, especially in the USA, to prepare future
leaders for the new demands by emphasizing the importance of instructional leadership,
complex problem-solving, and culture/trust-building (Robinson et al.,2008).However,
as Robinson et al. (2008) suggests, the most important element in leadership preparation
is assisting aspiring leaders in translating theoretical concepts into real school situations,
and this may not happen as much as is hoped for in the required administrative
internships. To address this problem, Tucker et al. (2012) advise that “more work is
needed in identifying the linkages between preparation program features and resulting
practice by program graduates once they assume leadership positions” (p. 164). When
graduates assume roles as new principals, a formal mentoring relationship with a more
experienced principal may be beneficial in achieving the connection.
Researchers have confirmed that most successful new principals have had intentional
coaching and mentoring in their first critical years (Browne-Ferrigno and Muth, 2004;
National Association of Elementary School Principals, 2003; Villani, 2006). Mentoring
provides significant support to new principals by providing them opportunities to share
their experiences with and receive feedback from a veteran school leader. According
to Sherman and Crum (2008), “prote
´s gain leadership knowledge and skill through
dialogue with mentors and opportunities to enact best practice” (p. 110). Additional
benefits of mentoring for new principals include reduction in feelings of isolation;
receiving outside support and an independent perspective about issues; opportunities for
deliberate reflection; increased competence and confidence; acceleration in developing
new professional skills; enhanced self-esteem and well-being; and receiving guidance
in changing professional identity from teacher to principal (Daresh, 2004; Hansford and
Ehrich, 2006; Hobson and Sharp, 2005; Rich and Jackson, 2005; Villani, 2006).
Hiring and retaining the leaders needed for public schools in an era of high-stakes
accountability will likely remain a challenge. Turnover in the principalship becomes
an obstacle to school improvement efforts, as documented by research suggesting
that principals must remain at a school for five years or more in order to implement
significant change (Fullan, 1991; McAdams, 1997). Troubling statistics on principal
retention indicate that approximately 50 per cent of newly hired principals remain at a
school only three to four years and that o30 per cent stay for five years, with even
greater turnover in high-need schools (Bettielle et al., 2011; Fuller and Young, 2009;
Seashore Louis et al., 2010). These findings underscore the importance of supporting
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new principals through mentoring and preparing them for this experience with a
mindset for being mentored.
Mindset concepts
The word mindset is defined as a “fixed mental attitude or disposition that
predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations” or simply “an
inclination or a habit” (American Heritage Dictionary, 2011). These definitions allude to
the fact that a person’s mindset is made visible through manifested responses, habits
and behaviors. The term disposition is used in the previous definition, as well.
A disposition, according to Eberly et al. (2007), is an attitude that is manifested in
behaviors that can be observable. In other words, a person’s mindset (attitudes,
dispositions, inclinations, habits) can be observed by noting the person’s consistently
demonstrated behaviors.
In research on the power of mindset in a person’s performance in life, Dweck (2008)
defines mindset as “a person’s belief in his or her personal qualities” (p. 6), which can
permeate every part of an individual’s life. Dweck popularized two mindset terms –
fixed mindset and growth mindset – that have significance in mentoring experiences.
The fixed mindset is a belief that one’s personal qualities are permanent, thus making
it nearly impossible for someone to change her or his attributes. Conversely, the growth
mindset is the belief that one’s “basic qualities are things [one] can cultivate through
[one’s] efforts” (Dweck, 2008, p. 7). A person adhering to the growth mindset philosophy
would believe that personal attributes are malleable and that individuals can develop
traits and skills over time, especially if a learning orientation and effort are applied.
Dweck points out that a person’s mindset can be identified by observing how an
individual approaches a difficult task or responds when encountering failure.
One of the hallmarks of the growth mindset is an individual’s persistence with
difficult tasks and an affinity toward addressing challenges. Those individuals with a
growth mindset believe that they can learn and achieve their goals or objectives
through determination and effort. Mistakes and deficiencies in performance do not
daunt them because they view failures or setbacks as opportunities for learning and
improving. Because individuals with fixed mindsets do not have a learning orientation,
they typically have difficulty admitting mistakes and correcting deficiencies. An
encouraging aspect of Dweck’s (2008) research is that the elements of the growth
mindset can be taught.
Although not using the term mindset, Avolio and Hannah (2008) describe a similar
concept with their framework of developmental readiness for leadership through which
leaders can create their own positive or negative self-fulfilling prophecies, measured
through an instrument which they developed (Avolio and Hannah, 2008).
The concepts of mindset and developmental readiness for leadership may be
applied to mentoring, as well. Because these concepts suggest a growth continuum in
the acquisition of attitudes and abilities as one matures, it could be inferred that
´s can develop competencies that would enhance their mentoring relationships
and ultimately their professional practice.
A current literature search did not reveal any studies that have defined a mentoring
mindset, although the author has used this term in previously published articles
(Searby, 2010, 2013; Tripses and Searby, 2008)[1]. It could be suggested that a related
concept is a prote
´’s “willingness” to be mentored (Hobson et al., 2009) as cited in
research studies in teacher mentoring literature as a condition that positively affects
a mentoring relationship (Roehrig et al., 2008; Valencic Zuljan and Volgrinc, 2007).
Conversely, researchers have also identified that negative attitudes of the prote
hinder the success of a mentoring relationship (Hobson and Malderez, 2013; Roehrig
et al., 2008), including unwillingness to learn and change, and not being open to
moving out of one’s comfort zone (Valencic Zuljan and Volgrinc, 2007). Although the
term mindset is not specifically referenced in these studies, the descriptions do allude to
the readiness/lack of readiness of a prote
´to benefit from the mentoring relationship.
Literature in the field of mentoring is replete with descriptions of the competencies a
mentor should possess in the mentoring relationship, but there is much less research
on desirable prote
´competencies, especially in educational leadership literature
(Tripses and Searby, 2008). However, evidence from management literature does suggest
that mentors provide mentoring to more competent vs less competent prote
and Huwe, 2003; Mullen, 1998; Mullen and Noe, 1999); thus, it is important to identify
specific prote
´competencies and examine how the prote
´s possession of these
contributes to the mentoring relationship. A competency is a behavioral characteristic
that can predict performance (McClelland, 1973). Though a competency may be context
specific, the term competency usually refers to an individual’s underlying motives,
habits, and patterns of thinking, feeling, acting, and speaking that cause a person to be
successful in a specific job or role (Spencer and Spencer, 1993). In the context of
mentoring, a prote
´s competencies would be those positive characteristics that
contribute to the effectiveness of, or satisfaction with, the mentoring relationship.
As early as 1988, the subject of prote
´competencies was explored by Noe (1988),
who cited factors that influenced the development of successful assigned mentoring
relationships. One of those factors was prote
´s’ “internal locus of control – the belief
that their own behaviors affect outcomes” (Noe, 1988, p. 461), which was identified
as a positive prote
´trait. Noe (1988) observed that prote
´s with an internal locus of
control also “may exhibit more effort to learn” (p. 461). Other researchers investigating
´characteristics have concluded that prote
´s should possess a strong learning
orientation, motivation, and personality indicators such as people-orientation, honesty,
confidence, dependability, loyalty, communication skills, and emotional stability (Allen
et al., 1997, 2000; Johnson and Ridley, 2004; Mullen, 2010). In addition, Chandler et al.
(2010) described the effective prote
´as one who possesses “relational savvy” (p. 49),
which includes behaviors such as information-seeking, help-seeking and feedback-
seeking. “Savvys” (Chandler et al., 2010, p. 49) are desired by mentors because “they
manage interactions with potential and current developers with care; they hold
attitudes conducive to reaching out to others for learning; and they have outstanding
social skills” (Chandler et al., 2010, p. 49).
In an effort to describe the ideal prote
´, Ensher and Murphy (2005) interviewed
fifty top leaders in various industries and through data analysis developed a list of ten
commonly desired characteristics for a prote
´: intelligence, ambition, willingness to
take risks, initiative, energy, trustworthiness, integrity, high emotional intelligence,
optimism, and complementary skills. Thus, it would appear that some prote
´s are
more ready to benefit from mentoring relationships than others, because of either
innate characteristics or learned competencies (Mullen, 2010; Rice and Brown, 1990).
Other parallels to positive characteristics of prote
´s have also been found, again
from management/business literature. By conducting a literature analysis and field
observations, Clutterbuck (2005) identified major prote
´competencies that he labelled
focus – proactivity, respect – self-respect, listening – articulating, open – questioning,
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prepared – reflective, learner – teachable, acknowledge the debt – pay it forward,
process awareness – process management, extrinsic and extrinsic feedback, and
independence – interdependence. These competencies are demonstrated by the prote
at varying phases of the mentoring relationship. Additionally, Kram (1985) identified
communication skills used by both the mentor and the prote
´as contributing to the
effectiveness of the relationship.
Overall, research on prote
´competencies is relatively thin, but in educational
leadership literature, it is especially sparse (Tripses and Searby, 2008). This was
confirmed when Tripses and Searby (2008) conducted a review of educational
leadership literature to gather research on the desired competencies of new principal
´s (Tripses and Searby, 2008). Few of the reviewed articles were empirically
based; most were anecdotal reports and observations from mentors. Their search,
however, led them to depict the identified knowledge, skills and dispositions of an
effective prote
´in a framework titled Characteristics for Effective Prote
´ship, which
provided a beginning compilation of desirable attributes in new school principal
´s. The authors recommended that educational leadership professors need to be
intentional about teaching skills of prote
´ship to aspiring school leaders who will
likely enter mentoring relationships in the early years of their administrative careers.
This recommendation aligns with the premise that the positive characteristics of
´ship can be acquired if they are lacking (Daresh and Playko, 1995) and that
a growth mindset (Dweck, 2008) is important in a prote
´actively engaged in a
mentoring relationship.
The research conducted in this study was qualitative in nature, and specifically,
the researcher employed methodological procedures of phenomenology in an attempt
to describe the characteristics of an abstract concept: the mentoring mindset of new
principal prote
´s. The study was conducted in 2010-2011 in one southern state in
the USA, where new principal mentoring is mandated by a policy of the State Board
of Education.
The pool of potential participants in this study was a group of 33 principals who had
completed New Principal Mentor training in one southern state in the USA, as well as
National Mentor Certification with the National Association of Elementary School
Principals. The rationale for choosing this population was that they had received
comprehensive training and nine months of supervision as mentors; thus, an
assumption was made that they were well-versed in best practices for new principal
mentoring, and would be using the kind of protocol in approaching the mentoring
relationship that they had been taught in their training. Each veteran principal had
worked with multiple prote
´s in relationships that were formal (assigned) and lasted
at least one academic year, in accordance with the requirements to become a Nationally
Certified Mentor. The mentors were paired with new principal prote
´s by the state
principal’s organization, following either a request by an individual new principal to
receive a mentor, or by a school district asking for a mentor for a new principal.
The pairs were then assigned by the association on the criteria of geographic
proximity only. There was no pairing strategy by gender, age, or ethnicity, but the
association did try to pair principals serving the same type of school (i.e. elementary,
middle, or high school).
Research design
Phenomenology was chosen as the research methodology for this study because the
researcher was seeking to understand a phenomenon that is abstract in nature:
amentoring mindset, as evidenced in the prote
´through professional language and
behaviors observable by the mentor. The central research question was: What constitutes
a mentoring mindset in a prote
´who is poised to receive maximum benefits from a
mentoring relationship, as described by the mentor?
The modified van Kaam method (Moustakas, 1994) was employed because this
method of phenomenology always starts from the behavior itself and not from
any theory about behavior. The phenomenon of the prote
´mentoring mindset was
explored by eliciting the perspectives and experiences of a group of veteran school
principal mentors who had mentored new principal prote
´s. This method of collecting
data to describe an abstract concept (such as mindset) was introduced by McClelland
(1973), when he hypothesized and demonstrated that behavioral manifestations which
can be observed by others, can ultimately reveal underlying motivations, as well as
characteristics such as persistence and self-confidence. Thus, it was appropriate to
conduct interviews with this purposeful sample of veteran principal mentors, asking
them to describe their observations and perceptions of their new principal prote
with the purpose of identifying the characteristics of the abstract term which the
researcher chose to call the prote
´’s mentoring mindset.
In phenomenological research, the goal is for the researcher to interpret and
understand the phenomenon and then describe its essence in words (Denzin and
Lincoln, 2005). The essence of the “mentoring mindset” then, was not something the
researcher explicitly added to the research. The essence already existed, in the intentional
relationship between the phenomenon and the lived experience. The meaning was
disclosed in the researching act that took place between the researcher and the
phenomenon. According to Dahlberg and Dahlberg (2003), working within a
phenomenological approach involves eliciting rich descriptions in order for the essence
of the phenomenon to be found, and this should include seeking varied aspects and
nuances of the phenomenon. Therefore, while the researcher questioned mentors about
the characteristics exhibited by prote
´s who seemed especially poised to benefit from
the mentoring experience, they were also asked to describe a prote
´who did not seem
ready to benefit from mentoring (i.e. negative cases). Asking for this variation on
the phenomenon yielded additional information that contributed to understanding it.
Thus, the rich accounts and detailed descriptions of the mentors’ observations of their
´s, shared in interviews with the researcher, became the data for this study.
After receiving approval from the university’s Institutional Review Board, the researcher
began conducting interviews with the principal mentors who had volunteered to
participate in the study, utilizing an interview protocol approved by the Review Board.
The original pool of 33 individuals invited to participate in the study through an e-mail
contact consisted of 27 females and six males. Those responding first and agreeing to be
interviewed included seven females and two males. Their prote
´s were both male and
female, and they had been assigned with no regard for gender matching. Each interview
lasted for 45-60 minutes, and all interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed
verbatim for analysis.
The interviewer was prepared to conduct as many interviews as were necessary
to get comprehensive data. According to Charmaz (2006), a qualitative researcher
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should determine when to cease data collection, recognizing when saturation of the
data has been achieved; that is, when transcript review after each interview is
indicating to the researcher that no new key words or themes are appearing. The
saturation of data in this study began at interview #5 and no new information or themes
emerged in interviews #6 and #7. However, the researcher wanted to be very convinced
of data saturation, so two additional interviews were conducted. The researcher verified
complete data saturation through the total of nine interviews.
In order to describe and define the phenomenon of a mentoring mindset in the
´, the researcher purposely did not use the phrase mentoring mindset during
the interviews. Instead, the researcher asked mentors to reflect about the new
principals they mentored and describe their characteristics: first, Tell me about a
new principal prote
´you mentored who seemed especially poised to benefit from the
mentoring relationship, and second, Tell me about a new principal you may have
mentored who did not seem ready to benefit from mentoring. Follow up probes were
asked, such as “What attitudes did the prote
´display?” “What behaviors told you that
the prote
´was embracing/not embracing the mentoring process?” “What skills did
the mentor exhibit or lack?” The researcher operated under the assumption that
the answers would lead to a description of the phenomenon of the prote
mindset – particularly the outward manifestations or indications of the mindset (which
is an internal, invisible phenomenon).
Data analysis
Each transcript was read several times after each interview to obtain an overall sense
of the content, then analyzed for key words and phrases. In each transcript, significant
phrases and sentences were underlined that were deemed to be descriptors of
behaviors, attitudes, or competencies that might help determine the essence of the
mentoring mindset. Meaning was then construed from the significant statements and
phrases, and labels were assigned to them in the margins of the transcript, identifying
characteristics of the prote
´, such as “able to see the big picture,” or “exhibits
curiosity,” “does not accept feedback,” “wants quick solutions,” and so forth. The labels
from all the transcripts were then listed on one sheet and reviewed for commonalities
that could be clustered together if they seemed related to one another. On a clean sheet
of paper, the researcher re-organized the related descriptors into clusters, and chose
categorical theme titles for these clusters, such as “learning orientation,” “relational,”
“lacks initiative,” and “reflective.” Because the researcher had asked questions in the
interview about characteristics of prote
´s who were perceived as unready to benefit
from mentoring, there were many negative characteristics to label, as well as
positive ones. It became clear that there were dichotomous pairs (depicting opposite
characteristics) of themes emerging, indicating desired characteristics and non-desired
characteristics, so they were organized as such. The first organization of themes
had seven opposing categories, but after further analysis and reflection, the researcher
determined that they could logically be combined and collapsed into five dichotomous
pairs of themes, still keeping all descriptors intact.
After the interview data were carefully analyzed, and lists of descriptors of
´s’ characteristics were assembled and categorically labeled in dichotomous
pairs, the next task was to distill the data to create a statement of the “essence” of the
phenomenon of the mentoring mindset, employing the modified van Kamm method
(Moustakas, 1994), and then to define it more succinctly. At this point, it was necessary
for the researcher to become very reflective and make an attempt to synthesize the
interviews from a metacognitive stance, asking the original research question “What
constitutes the mentoring mindset of a prote
´who is poised to receive maximum
benefits from a mentoring relationship, as described by the mentor?”
When the definition of the prote
´mentoring mindset was extrapolated from the
data collected in this study, and the themed descriptors of the indicators of the presence
of the mindset and absence of the mindset were reviewed, the researcher determined
that a conceptual framework for a prote
´mentoring mindset could be created.
A conceptual framework was an appropriate product for this research, as conceptual
frameworks capture something real and do this in a way that is easy to remember and
apply (Shields and Rangarajan, 2013).
The phenomenological method required the researcher to accurately describe the
phenomenon being studied after interpreting the descriptions of behaviors that
depicted the phenomenon. The researcher had to distill the descriptions into an essence
statement that clearly conveyed the characteristics of the phenomenon (Moustakas,
1994). Thus, the findings reported here include the essence statement, the concise
definition, and the specific descriptors of the phenomenon of the prote
The essence and definition of the mentoring mindset
The goal of this research was to describe the phenomenon of the mentoring mindset
in a prote
´participating in a mentoring relationship. The following essence of
the mentoring mindset description was crafted after careful re-consideration of the data
provided to the researcher.
The mentoring mindset of a prote
´is a construct made visible to the mentor in the
mentoring relationship by the demonstration of attitudes, behaviors and competencies
which indicate that the prote
´is embracing the mentoring process. The prote
possesses a mentoring mindset takes initiative (behavior), has a learning orientation
(attitude), has a goal orientation (competency), is relational (behavior, competency), and
is reflective (attitude, behavior). Conversely, there are observable attitudes, behaviors,
and lack of competencies that indicate the absence of a mentoring mindset in a prote
That prote
´lacks initiative (behavior), lacks a learning orientation (attitude), lacks
a goal orientation (competency), lacks relational skills (behavior, competency), and is
unreflective (attitude, behavior).
Moving from this lengthy descriptor to a more workable and memorable definition
of the mentoring mindset was the next task. The distilled definition of the prote
mentoring mindset was created as follows.
The mentoring mindset of a prote
´is a construct arising from those prote
attitudes, behaviors and competencies that enable the prote
´to embrace the mentoring
process and maximize the benefits of the mentoring relationship. This definition, along
with the positive and negative indicators of the mindset, is depicted graphically in the
´Mentoring Mindset Framework (see Figure 1).
Detailed descriptors of the prote
´’s mentoring mindset
The composite of formulated meanings from the nine interviews clearly yielded two
categories: Indicators of the Presence of a Mentoring Mindset, and Indicators of the
Absence of a Mentoring Mindset. In each category, five themes emerged that could
be labeled as parallel opposites. The combination of the definition of mentoring
The Prote
mindset, and the description of the characteristics and non-characteristics of that
phenomenon, form the conceptual framework titled the Prote
´Mentoring Mindset
Framework. This researcher posits that the opposing lists of indicators of the
presence of the mentoring mindset and indicators of the absence of the mentoring
mindset offer information that can be used to consider a prote
´’s re adine s s for
mentoring, openness to mentoring, and potential for benefitting from the mentoring
Indicators of the Presence of a
Mentoring Mindset
Takes Initiative
Initiates contact with
Self-starter; confident
Takes mentoring seriously
Intentional; action-oriented
Learning Orientation
Exhibits curiosity
Asks good questions
Adequately knowledgeable
about concepts, content of
one’ s field
Admits to not knowing
Seeks & accepts
feedback from mentor;
Accepts advice graciously
Skillful & Organized
In setting goals; has a
In organizational matters
In time management;
In seeing the big picture
Can build relationships
Knows how to network
Picks up on social cues
Approachable; positive
Keeps lines of
communication open with
Active Listener
Can keep confidences
Trusts and can be trusted
• Honest
Can self-assess
Learns from mistakes
Articulates reflection out
Transparent; forthcoming
The mentoring
of a protégé is…..
a construct
those protégé
behaviors, and
that enable the
protégé to
embrace the
Indicators of the Absence of a
Mentoring Mindset
Lacks Initiative
Only responds when mentor
initiates or when in crisis
Lacks drive and motivation
Just goes through the
motions of mentoring
Wants mentor to tell what
to do
Lacks a Learning Orientation
No real curiosity
Wants “quick fix answers”
“Know it all”
Does not take advantage of
opportunities for further
Rejects feedback or takes it
Cannot admit weaknesses;
Lacks Skill & Organization
In goal setting; lacks vision
In organizational matters
In time management
In seeing big picture
Lacks Relational Skills
No attention to building
Avoids opportunities to
Does not pick up on social
• Withdrawn
Satisfied with one way
communication from the
Talks too much, does not
listen well
Lack of self-knowledge
Inability to learn from
Cannot articulate reflection
Withholds sharing
maximize the
of the
Source: © 2014 Linda Searby
Figure 1.
The Prote
Mindset Framework
The opposing parallel descriptors of the Prote
´’s Mentoring Mindset are: takes
initiative – lacks initiative, learning orientation – lacks learning orientation, goal
orientation – lacks goal-orientation, relational – lacks relational skills, and reflective –
unreflective (see Figure 1). Each pair of opposing characteristics is described here, with
illustrative comments from the participants. They are not in a rank order, as the
attributes were not ranked by the participants.
Theme 1: takes initiative – lacks initiative
The mentor principals stated the importance of the prote
´being proactive in the
mentoring relationship by taking initiative to make appointments and keep them, and
to follow through with suggestions that the mentor would make. They appreciated a
“self-starter” who was confident (but not arrogant) and focussed on being intentional
and action-oriented. As one mentor noted of a new principal she was mentoring:
“She initiated a lot of the conversations for things she was concerned about, like how to
schedule her day.” And another commented about how her prote
´was a self-starter:
“He always had a starting point for our conversations.” One mentor talked about how
she appreciated her prote
´’s proactivity, stating:
She would always come over to where I was. She liked the things that were going on in my
school. She would always bring up, how do you do this? I’ve been reading up about, you
know, or I looked on your website, and I saw some different things you’re doing. She would
initiate meetings, conversations.
These behaviors told the mentor that the prote
´was taking the mentoring seriously.
Conversely, when asked about characteristics of a prote
´who did not seem to be
benefiting from the mentoring, the term “lacks initiative” was given frequently.
Mentors noticed the behavior of the prote
´who seemed to just be going through the
motions of the mentorship. As one mentor noted of her prote
´, “He was not actively
communicating. I would have to initiate any contact that we had. I think that he only
called or e-mailed me maybe once or twice.” She mentioned that she and her prote
talked initially in August, but that she did not hear from him from August until
November. She said, “I wish he’d been more open to communicating, seeking out
solutions.” Another mentor noted that she felt she carried the greater weight of the
relationship saying, “He was not one to initiate things. I spent more of my time probing
and pushing him and trying to make the connection than he did. He only called me
when there was a crisis.” When the prote
´lacked drive and motivation and wanted
the mentor to tell him/her what to do, the mentor acknowledged a decrease in
motivation to continue working with the prote
Theme 2: learning orientation – lacks learning orientation
A prote
´who had adequate knowledge of the basic concepts of the field (in this case,
school administration), but still admits to not knowing everything, exhibited a learning
orientation that was desirable. An example of this was a prote
´who was described
like this: “Her attitude showed a willingness to learn, a willingness to seek out direction
and find things.” Other mentors described prote
´s who were “eager to learn” as well.
Demonstrating curiosity and asking good questions was cited as further evidence of
the prote
´wanting to learn more.
A prote
´attribute that was perceived negatively by mentors was being a “know it
all.” If a prote
´ignored opportunities that the mentor offered for further learning, or
appeared to only want a “quick fix” to a problem, the mentor conveyed being chagrined
The Prote
by that. One mentor commented that her prote
´“did not want to appear that she
didn’t have the answers. Rather than saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’ she acted
like ‘everything I’m doing is right’.” Another mentor characterized her prote
as a non-learner: “He didn’t really want to spend a lot of time in learning from someone
else. He only wanted me there as a resource.”
Seeking and accepting feedback from the mentor was a desirable characteristic that
signaled openness on the part of the prote
´. This was demonstrated by the mentor
who portrayed her prote
´as “never resistant to suggestions, and it didn’t bother her
whether you had to give her some criticism or whatever; she was very open to that.”
However, a prote
´who took feedback personally, or rejected it altogether, and was
stubborn in admitting any weakness was deemed unteachable.
Theme 3: goal orientation – lacks goal orientation
There are many skills that could be listed as positive attributes in a prote
´. However,
those that were named most frequently were skills that indicated the goal orientation
of the prote
´. These included skills of visioning the big picture, goal setting, time
management, and prioritizing tasks. As one mentor noted, “My prote
´was really able
to talk about the goals that she set for her school and what her greatest needs were and
what she wanted the programs to look like.” And another praised her prote
“Organized. Everything seemed to be well thought out and well planned.”
´s who lacked vision or were short-sighted, were unorganized, and had poor
time management skills were perceived negatively by the mentors. One prote
was characterized by his mentor as “not having organizational skills in place to
manage his time.” And one mentor lamented about her prote
I don’t think he knew what his priorities were. I think he was very overwhelmed. He had a
great personality. He was a really nice person. He was very firm in his actions. But again,
I think he was dealing on a day to day situation rather than looking at the big picture and
developing a long term plan.
Theme 4: relational – lacks relational skills
Mentors mentioned prote
´s’ well-developed relational skills frequently. The prote
who could build relationships with others, and use those skills in networking with
others, were deemed by mentors to be relationally competent. One mentor complimented
her prote
´by saying “She was always warm and inviting. She would e-mail, call, text.
She wanted to build a relationship.” The individuals who could pick up on social cues,
were approachable, and had a positive outlook were also noted by mentors as effective
´s. The prote
´s who were good at keeping the lines of communication open
with their mentors, and were active listeners in mentoring sessions, were very
satisfactory to the mentors. One mentor described her prote
´in glowing terms: “He has
a very pleasant personality that makes him a people person. He is open and willing to
talk with his faculty and to me, and to listen.” In addition, being an ethical person was
mentioned as an important characteristic for a prote
´to possess. This included the
qualities of being trustworthy and honest, and upholding confidentiality agreements, as
emphasized by one mentor who said, “I have to be able to know that they understand
confidentiality to gain my trust.”
On the other hand, there were prote
´s who exhibited an avoidance of networking
with others, and who gave little attention to relationship building. A disappointed
mentor said of his prote
´, “I tried to get him to go to professional meetings and
network, and he wouldn’t go.” One mentor was extremely disgusted with her prote
saying “I was assigned as her mentor, but she never called me one time. She always
put me off. I would call and she would make promises, but then I wouldn’t hear from
her.” Another commented, “My prote
´was not open to talking. Her body language
was closed, her arms were crossed. She wasn’t open to the relationship at all.”
On the other hand, if a prote
´talked too much, it was also noted as detrimental to the
Theme 5: reflective – unreflective
The prote
´who could reflect out loud, talk about learning from mistakes, and
self-assess appropriately was noted positively by the mentors. One prote
´kept a
reflective journal, and would read her journal entries aloud to her mentor. Her mentor
said, “She could think out loud, and she was able to self-assess.” Another mentor
outlined the need for the prote
´to be reflective, saying “You have got to have the
ability to debrief situations. Let someone hear what you did and then talk about what it
means.” Demonstration of the qualities of transparency and openness with the mentor
were also mentioned as positive characteristics. One mentor characterized her
satisfactory relationship with her prote
´in this way: “We have a very open
relationship as far as talking and knowing everything that is going on.” Another
mentor mentioned the importance of the prote
´having self-knowledge, stating
“I want the person to have a sense of her own strengths and weaknesses. I want her to
be full of thought.”
The prote
´who was deemed to lack self-knowledge and was unable to learn from
mistakes, or possessed the inability to be reflective, was not depicted as a satisfactory
mentoring partner. One mentor described a prote
´who had shadowed her in her
school, and when they sat down afterwards to process, the prote
´said, “I don’t really
have any questions.” This signaled a lack of reflective ability on the part of the prote
Another mentor commented on her prote
´’s lack of self-knowledge, stating “I’m not
sure he is real perceptive about how things are really going.” And yet another mentor
who was assigned by the superintendent to work with a principal who was marginal,
commented on her prote
´’s inability to learn from her mistakes: “She was closed-
minded. It was one way – her way. She was ‘hands off’ with her faculty and stayed in
her office. Yet she wanted to appear that she had all the answers. I had to shift to being
very directive with her.”
In summary, the five themes of the mentoring mindset, depicted as dichotomous
pairs of indicators, describe what mentors considered desirable and undesirable
characteristics in a new principal prote
´, which were deemed likely to impact a
´’s capacity to benefit from the mentoring relationship. It should be noted that
these descriptions are composite lists of characteristics from multiple prote
´s and it
should not be assumed that any one prote
´possessed all of the mentoring mindset
characteristics or lacked all of the characteristics.
This study was conducted in order to plow a new furrow in the ground in the realm of
´competencies in mentoring research, and specifically to contribute to the very
thin body of literature on new principal prote
´characteristics. Conducting the study
was not without challenges, but overall it is hoped that the application of this
study will be of practical use and benefit to those engaged in mentoring, specifically in
the educational leadership context.
The Prote
Meeting the challenges encountered in the study
The inherent challenge of this inquiry was to define an abstract, non-visible construct
the researcher labelled as the prote
´mentoring mindset, which can be compared
to the difficulty of defining other abstract terms like love, freedom, or competency.
Abstract constructs such as these can only logically be described through observable
characteristics of those possessing them (as cited in literature on competency
identification (McClelland, 1973; Spencer and Spencer, 1993). This can be illustrated by
a very recent report of a research study specifically on the concept of mindset. Yan et al.
(2014) cite that subjects in their study who exhibited “growth mindsets,” as defined by
Dweck (2008), and measured on an instrument they developed, also exhibited
characteristics of self-regulated learning when asked to talk about how they
approached studying for a test: they were observed to be more metacognitive
(reflective) and have more sophisticated learning habits. In the case of the research
reported in this paper, the phenomenon of the mentoring mindset was described after
the mentoring had occurred, and the mentors were reflecting back on the behaviors
and attitudes of the prote
´s. Thus, the invisible construct of the prote
´’s mindset was
made visible.
A second challenge in conducting this study was identifying past research in
educational leadership literature on the topic of desired prote
´characteristics of
new principals in mentoring relationships. Although there is mentoring literature on
´competencies in fields other than public school education (cf. Chandler, 2009;
Clutterbuck, 2005; Johnson and Huwe, 2003; Mullen, 2005; Rice and Brown, 1990;
Wanberg et al., 2003), there is sparse empirical literature on new public school principal
´competencies. As a result, the literature background for this study, of necessity,
was drawn more from management/business literature than from the field of
educational leadership. However, when comparing the findings from this study with
the research on prote
´competencies in fields other than educational leadership, many
commonalities can be observed. This suggests that the Prote
´Mentoring Mindset
framework may have validity and applicability in broader contexts beyond educational
leadership, and testing the framework in other fields is suggested as an area for
further study.
A third challenge is that readers may judge that a limitation of this study was that
the mentors were the only ones interviewed, not the prote
´s. Admittedly, and by
design, the characteristics identified only came through the filter of the mentors,
as the purpose of the study was to identify the characteristics of the mentoring
mindset from the mentor’s perspective. This presents the possibility that additional or
different characteristics of the mentoring mindset could exist and could be identified
by the prote
´s. It could be speculated, however, that the indicators of the absence
of the mentoring mindset would not likely have been self-identified by the prote
It should also be noted that this approach of gleaning descriptions of prote
competencies from mentor interviews is consistent with other literature in which
´competencies are identified (Chandler et al., 2010; Clutterbuck, 2005; Wanberg
et al., 2003).
One final note on the challenges of this study comes in the form of a disclaimer.
There is always a challenge in qualitative research to refrain from assuming that the
results of a study are universally applicable. Therefore, it should be made explicit
that because this study was conducted with a specific population – veteran school
principals in a particular region of the USA – the researcher does not assume that
similar results would emerge from a study conducted in other fields or contexts.
The findings of this study resulted in the Prote
´Mentoring Mindset Framework, but
the Framework is not deemed to be generalizable to all prote
The prote
´’s mentoring mindset: considerations for practice
The researcher in this study identified the following characteristics as those which
mentors deemed as indicators of the presence of a mentoring mindset in a prote
taking initiative, having a learning orientation, having a goal orientation, being
relational, and being reflective. Those lacking a mentoring mindset demonstrated
opposite characteristics: lacking initiative, lacking a learning orientation, lacking goal
orientation, lacking relational skills, and being non-reflective. These descriptive
themes fall into the categories of behaviors, competencies (or skills), and attitudes.
As the researcher described both positive and negative indicators of the mindset,
additional questions arose. One question that must be considered in discussing the
concept of the mentoring mindset is: what components of the mindset might be
functions of an individual’s relatively fixed personality rather than attitudes, behaviors
and competencies that can be acquired? Dougherty et al. (2010) posit that “it is
somewhat surprising, given the resurgence of personality research in behavioral
management research, that little systematic research has investigated the role of
personality characteristics in the formation and maintenance of mentoring relationships”
(p. 149). Though limited, a notion exists within mentoring literature that personality
differences of the prote
´may have an impact on the mentoring relationship (Fagenson,
1988, 1992; Scandura and Ragins, 1993; Turban and Dougherty, 1994). Likewise, Carter
(2012) found that graduate school mentors listed the compatibility of a prote
personality with their own as a critical factor in forming productive mentoring
relationships. It is possible that some pairs in the study reported here did not
have compatible personalities, while others were quite compatible, which could have
influenced the mentors’ perceptions and information shared in the interviews. However,
the personality compatibility factor was not investigated in this study.
So, in reviewing the characteristics depicted in the Prote
´Mentoring Mindset
Framework, there are likely to be those individual qualities that are more malleable
than others, and some characteristics that are just describing an individual prote
personality. For instance, the characteristic of being “open” is identified as a desired
attitude in the Framework. Lack of openness could be a manifestation of a shy
personality, or it could be a manifestation of a “closed mind,” which is a disposition
that could be improved upon. So, care must be taken to avoid using the Prote
Mentoring Mindset Framework characteristics in a way that sends a message that
“everyone must look like this” (i.e. the listing in left column of the Framework; see
Figure 1) in order to experience success in a mentoring relationship. There is no perfect
´and no perfect mentor. A very practical exercise for the use of the Framework
would be to present it to a group of aspiring or new principals, asking them to
categorize which positive mindset characteristics are “teachable” or can be improved
upon with mentoring support, information and practice; and which characteristics are
more functions of personality and thus, less likely to change.
A second issue for consideration: is the mentoring mindset a have/have not
dichotomy? For example, is a prote
´either always exhibiting curiosity or is a prote
always non-curious? Is a prote
´always demonstrating goal orientation, or always
lacking in the ability to set goals? This poses another opportunity for discussion and
further research. The researcher’s intended purpose for the Prote
´Mentoring Mindset
Framework is for prote
´s to use it as a reflective tool to think about the desirable and
The Prote
undesirable characteristics that can enhance or restrict the prote
´’s learning within
the mentoring relationship. It would be the hope of the researcher that prote
presented with this information would identify, upon reflection and self-analysis, areas
of strength, as well as areas for continuous improvement. If and when the prote
identified mentoring mindset characteristics that can and should be developed more
fully, it would be wise for the prote
´to view those on a developmental continuum that
can be improved over time with feedback, practice, and maturity. Dweck (2008)
suggested that individuals can have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset that can
change positively with training. In essence, Dweck was saying that even individuals
with a fixed mindset can be taught how to think differently, moving toward a growth
mindset which can lead to changed behavior.
There is an application of this research for mentors, as well. In Kram’s (1985)
seminal work on mentoring, she posited that different types of mentoring relationships
are needed at the early, middle and late stages of one’s career, and there is much
support for the concept that the mentoring relationship should be viewed as a
developmental relationship (Crosby, 1999; Higgins and Kram, 2001; Zachary, 2012).
Cherniss (2007) asserted that mentoring is a context in which the development of
emotional and social competencies can occur, and that this usually involves “a long-
term process, with alternating periods of action and reflection” (Cherniss, 2007, p. 439).
This suggests the need for both prote
´s and mentors to become aware of the
desired prote
´mentoring mindset characteristics and to reflect together, using
the lists generated in this research (Figure 1), at multiple times during the mentoring
process (e.g. beginning, midpoint, closing) to assess change over time. Thus, the
´Mentoring Mindset Framework has the potential for use by both mentors and
´s as a catalyst for prote
´self-understanding and growth.
Implications for educational leadership
This research study has two implications for the specific field of educational leadership.
The first is for those who direct educational leadership preparation programs. Since
many US states mandate or encourage new principal mentoring (Alsbury and
Hackmann, 2006), graduates of US educational leadership programs can anticipate
participating in a mentoring relationship upon acquisition of their first principalship.
The establishment of a positive relationship with a mentor has been cited as a career-
enhancing activity for new principals/headteachers (Browne-Ferrigno and Muth, 2004;
Creasap et al., 2005; Gardiner et al., 2000; Gray and Walker, 2007; Hobson and Sharp,
2005). Additionally, Daresh (2004) states that “mentoring is an absolutely essential part
of socialization and professional formation, whether at the preservice, induction, or
in-service phases of the professional development of school administrators” (p. 502).
Where will new principals have obtained information about how to prepare for their
inevitable assigned mentorships except in an educational leadership course or targeted
training? Educational leadership professors and those conducting headteacher training
courses will need to be intentional about including prote
´ship information in the
curriculum, because as important as it would seem, it may not specifically align with
the standards that guide program accreditation or professional practice (i.e. in the USA,
Educational Leadership Constituents Council; Interstate School Leadership Licensure
It will be important to view the mentoring mindset as developing along a
continuum, just as leadership competencies develop over time with guidance, exposure
to growth opportunities, and authentic administrative experiences (Avolio and
Hannah, 2008). Researchers contributing to mentoring literature emphasize that
preparation for mentoring relationships should include several types of self-
assessments for the prote
´(i.e. learning needs and goals, learning style, personality
profile, strengths inventory) to set the stage for ongoing professional development
(Tripses and Searby, 2008; Zachary, 2012). Individuals teaching educational leadership
courses can emphasize the importance of developing a mentoring mindset as set forth
in the Prote
´Mentoring Mindset Framework, and encourage aspiring and new
principals/headteachers to consider their own mentoring mindset as compared to the
characteristics described in the framework. Daresh (2004) posits that learning how
to be mentored may not be a skill that can be acquired through university coursework,
but educational leadership trainers should expect that future school leaders will
demonstrate a predisposition to learning through this avenue (mentoring). So, a major
implication of this study is that educational leadership professors and trainers need to
emphasize the importance of new principals being prepared to enter mentoring
relationships, and facilitate their preparation for those relationships. Using the Prote
Mentoring Mindset Framework (Figure 1) as a tool for reflection would be one way
to accomplish that.
The second implication of this study is for entities responsible for training the
mentors who will be mentoring new principals/headteachers. This, of course, assumes
that mentors are being trained in best practices of mentoring through various state,
regional, or national organizations. As an example, in the USA, mentor training
for those who desire to mentor new principals has been frequently conducted by
professionals from the National Association of Elementary School Principals, which
has a standardized mentor training program. Mentor training should include
information on how to recognize a mentoring mindset, or the absence of the mindset, in
a prote
´. Mentor behaviors are key in setting the stage for a productive mentoring
relationship and initiating discussions with a prote
´should include a review of the
expectations for the relationship (Zachary, 2012). Sharing the list of mentoring mindset
characteristics, including the list of indicators for the absence of the mindset found in
the Framework, could heighten the new principal prote
´s’ awareness of desired
attitudes, behaviors, and competencies that should be developing, as well as those that
should be avoided. Interestingly, a study by Godshalk and Sosik (2003) suggests
that the mentor’s disposition influences prote
´outcomes. They found that when both
the mentor and the prote
´had a high goal orientation, prote
´s reported receiving
more psychosocial mentoring. Cherniss (2007) concurred that both parties contribute to
the success of the relationship, stating that “the emotional intelligence of both the
mentor and the prote
´appears to influence the quality of mentoring” (p. 432).
Interestingly, Hobson and Malderez (2013) found that certain behaviors and attitudes
of the mentor – most notably those associated with evaluative mentoring or what
they term “judgementoring” – can actually shortchange the learning of the prote
This may suggest that the mentor’s mindset contributes to the success of the
relationship as much as the prote
´’s mindset does. Clearly, the mentor plays a crucial
role in setting the stage for an effective mentoring experience. Therefore, mentor
training for new principal mentors should include instruction on the mentor’s role in
communicating the desired prote
´attitudes, behaviors, and competencies.
Mentoring is conceived as a two-way or reciprocal partnership between the mentor and
the prote
´(Browne-Ferrigno and Muth, 2004; Zachary, 2012), thus pointing to the
The Prote
need for both parties to be knowledgeable about how each contributes to the success of
the relationship. In this study, the prote
´’s mentoring mindset, as observed by the
mentor, was defined and described with both positive and negative indicators
identified, and a Prote
´Mentoring Mindset Framework was created. Under the
premise that the prote
´is responsible for 50 per cent of the mentoring relationship
(Zachary, 2009), it is proposed that new principal/headteacher prote
´s need to become
aware of the attitudes, behaviors, and competencies that will enable them to maximize
the benefits of the mentoring relationship. These attributes include taking initiative,
demonstrating a learning orientation, being goal oriented, relational, and reflective.
´characteristics influence the creation and maintenance of mentoring
relationships, and having knowledge of them may be useful in identifying individuals
who will flourish as prote
´s(Wanberget al., 2003). Thus, understanding the Prote
Mentoring Mindset Framework is useful to mentors as well.
This researcher has attempted to add to the knowledge base of prote
competencies by suggesting a definition of the mentoring mindset a prote
´needs to
possess in order to benefit from a mentoring relationship with an experienced mentor.
The Mentoring Mindset Framework offers a list of desired prote
´competencies, as
well as those that are not desired by the mentor, and can be used as a tool for reflection
with prote
´s. Suggestions for further research include replicating this study in other
fields to ascertain if the Prote
´Mentoring Mindset Framework would have a broader
application, and working to move it from a conceptual framework to a theory through
grounded theory research methodology. Currently, the author of this study intends
to translate the Mentoring Mindset Framework into a Prote
that would be a reflective instrument to help the prote
´judge his/her readiness
for mentoring.
This research has potential for furthering the knowledge base on prote
competencies in the field of mentoring in general, but it also has immediate practical
application in the field of educational leadership. With the increased emphasis on new
principal/headteacher mentoring, educational leadership faculty, and others involved
in leadership training should understand how aspiring principals/headteachers can be
better prepared for entering mentoring relationships focussed on improving their
professional practice as school leaders. Bringing attention to the constructs in the
´Mentoring Mindset Framework is a logical first step.
1. While the author has used the term “mentoring mindset” in previously published articles
(Searby, 2010, 2013; Tripses and Searby, 2008), this paper is based on new research
employing the phenomenological method in which the definition of the mentoring mindset
has been defined for the first time, and its characteristics described.
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About the author
Dr Linda J. Searby, PhD, is a mentoring Researcher and Consultant and Associate Professor in the
Educational Leadership Program at Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. She is an Assistant
Editor for Mentoring & Tutoring journal, and serves on the Executive Board of the International
Mentoring Association. Dr Linda J. Searby can be contacted at:
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... Originality/value -This study affirms extant research (Black and Taylor, 2017) while connecting mentorand coaching-focused literature to the discussion of a mentee dispositions scale or measurement akin to Crisp's (2009) College Student Mentoring Scale and Searby's (2014) mentoring mindset framework. This study also forwards an exploratory model of mentoring program inputs and outputs, envisioning both mentor and mentee characteristics as fundamental inputs for a mentoring program rather than traditional models that view mentors as inputs and mentee achievements as outputs (Crisp, 2009;Searby, 2014). ...
... Crisp (2009) developed this scale to provide conceptual validation on mentoring relationships and has been widely used to provide clarity on what constitutes a mentoring relationship (Castellanos et al., 2016;Hu and Ma, 2010). Searby (2014) introduced a mentoring mindset framework as described by the mentor in which mentor characteristics may lead to mentees maximizing and benefiting from a mentoring relationship. Searby's mentoring mindset included mentee characteristics using dichotomous pairs of the following competencies: initiative, learning orientation, goal orientation, relational skills and reflectiveness. ...
... Searby's mentoring mindset included mentee characteristics using dichotomous pairs of the following competencies: initiative, learning orientation, goal orientation, relational skills and reflectiveness. These competencies can influence how a mentee views their expectations, roles, and responsibilities in a reciprocal relationship (Searby, 2014). Similarly, Healy and Welchert (1990) mentioned both mentors and mentees require a "degree of maturity" (p. ...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore how postsecondary mentoring programs address mentee dispositions prior to the mentee entering the reciprocal relationship, particularly which mentee dispositions are valued across mentoring program types, including peer, community-to-student, faculty-to-student and faculty-to-faculty programs. Design/methodology/approach This study employed quantitative content analysis to examine 280 institutional US postsecondary mentoring websites across four different institution types (public, four-year; private, four-year, non-profit; private, four-year, for-profit; public, two-year) and four different mentoring program types (peer or student-to-student, community-to-student, faculty-to-student and faculty-to-faculty programs). Grounded coding strategies were employed to generate these four mentoring program types, supported by extant research (Crisp et al., 2017). Findings Of 280 mentoring programs, 18.6 percent articulated mentee dispositions prior to entering the reciprocal relationship. When mentoring programs did address mentees, most programs articulated mentor duties aligned with mentee expectations (47.5 percent of programs) and program outcomes for mentees (65.7 percent of programs) rather than what the mentee can and should bring into a reciprocal relationship. Research limitations/implications This study is delimited by its sample size and its focus on institutional website content. Future studies should explore how mentoring programs recruit and retain mentees, as well as how website communications address the predispositions and fit of mentees within different types of mentoring programs. Practical implications This study provided evidence that many postsecondary mentoring programs in the USA may not be articulating programmatic expectations of mentees prior to the mentoring relationship. By failing to address mentee predispositions, mentoring programs may not be accurately assessing their mentor’s compatibility with their mentees, potentially leading to unproductive mentoring relationships. Originality/value This study affirms extant research (Black and Taylor, 2017) while connecting mentor- and coaching-focused literature to the discussion of a mentee dispositions scale or measurement akin to Crisp’s (2009) College Student Mentoring Scale and Searby’s (2014) mentoring mindset framework. This study also forwards an exploratory model of mentoring program inputs and outputs, envisioning both mentor and mentee characteristics as fundamental inputs for a mentoring program rather than traditional models that view mentors as inputs and mentee achievements as outputs (Crisp, 2009; Searby, 2014).
... Mentees require meta-cognitive skills, 8 which necessitates self-reflection of their own abilities and necessary areas for development 9 (Kuiper & Pesut, 2004). Thus, mentees benefit from an accurate self-perception of their own 10 knowledge and skills regarding the DNP project process to work effectively and collaboratively 11 with the mentor (Searby, 2014). 12 ...
... Open communication will promote the development of the relationship and the project (Dols et 16 al., 2017). Ultimately, mentees need to think independently and critically (Searby, 2014). 17 ...
... interactions (Raisbeck, 2012;Searby, 2014). Mentees who are active participants in the 6 mentoring process learn to act on constructive feedback throughout the duration of their projects. ...
... ECTs possess different learning styles, different mentoring mindsets (Searby, 2014) and some are more keen to experience and able to deal with different kinds of mentor challenge (Martin, 1996) than others. For example, some ECTs are keen to take advantage of opportunities for their mentors to observe their lessons and engage in post-lesson discussion about the experience: ...
... productive (Strauss et al., 2013); 5. the institutional context for mentoring is characterised by an expansive learning culture (Fuller & Unwin, 2003) built upon collegiality and trust, and relatively free from excessive emphases on externally prescribed goals and agendas, such as those relating to teaching practices and teacher assessment (Yusko & Feiman-Nemser, 2008); 6. there are effective mechanisms for establishing and sustaining confidentiality and other conditions for non-judgemental mentoring relationships (Hobson & Malderez, 2013;Searby, 2014); 7. there are development opportunities for mentees which enable them to make the most of mentoring (Kochan, 2002;Tripses & Searby, 2008); 8. the mentoring programme is overseen by a mentoring coordinator who, amongst other things, monitors mentoring relationships and intervenes where necessary (Kochan et al., 2015); 9. the mentoring programme is periodically evaluated, to inform its further development and improvement (Ehrich, Hansford & Ehrich, 2011); and ...
This chapter discusses a holistic mentoring framework, called ONSIDE Mentoring, which has been designed to provide effective support for the professional learning, development and well-being of early career teachers. The chapter outlines and provides empirical and theoretical support for seven imperatives of ONSIDE Mentoring, and identifies key elements of a supportive architecture for ONSIDE Mentoring. While developed with a primary focus on early career teachers, the research underpinning ONSIDE Mentoring includes two studies of teachers of all career phases, and a study of ten exemplary mentoring programmes across various employment sectors and six countries (Hobson et al., 2016). The ONSIDE Mentoring framework also shares key assumptions with influential models of mentoring, and theories of well-being, learning and professional learning, which are not specific to the teaching profession, or to early career professionals. As such, ONSIDE Mentoring is potentially applicable to other professional career phases and other professional contexts beyond teaching.
... • MTED is provided for mentees as well as mentors, to help them to cultivate 'protégé mentoring mindsets' (Searby, 2014) and to take full advantage of the mentoring support available to them. ...
Technical Report
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The research presented in this report was commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to inform: • The development of a framework for the mentoring of teachers and trainers in the Further Education and Training (FET) sector in England; • Associated guidance for mentors, mentees and leaders in FET organisations; • The design and delivery of national mentor training programmes for new and experienced mentors. In this report, the term mentoring is used to encompass activities or programmes that others may refer to as coaching or mentoring. The primary aims of the research are: • To identify the impacts of effective mentoring training, education and development (MTED); • To identify key features of effective MTED; • To highlight examples of effective practice in MTED. Whilst the focus of the research is on the nature and impact of effective MTED, the study also identifies a range of additional factors that enhance and impede the effectiveness and impact of mentoring programmes.
... These considerations, together with the earlier finding about the importance of managing mentees' expectations and ensuring clarity and consistency of understanding of mentoring roles, suggest that an additional feature of a supportive mentoring architecture is the provision of training for mentees in how to develop a productive mentoring mindset (Searby 2014) and take full advantage of mentoring support. ...
This paper presents the outcomes of an empirical investigation into the validity of Bryan Cunningham's thesisthat the effectiveness of teacher mentoring is enhanced by a supportive institutional framework comprising eight ‘architectural design features’. It draws upon analyses of data from a mixed methods study of mentoring in the English Further Education sector. Data were generated via 40 semi-structured interviews with teachers, mentors and other stakeholders, and a national online survey of teachers of all subjects/vocational areas, completed by 392 respondents across all nine regions of England. The paper presents a reconceptualisation of the architecture for mentoring, which encompasses both a mentoring substructure and superstructure. Cunningham’s institutional architecture (reconceptualised as a mentoring substructure) is extended through the identification of additional design features, while limitations of the concept of an institutional mentoring architecture are exposed and evidence presented to show that a complementary superstructure is a necessary additional means of seeking to achieve optimally effective mentoring. A new research agenda is proposed to explore the extent to which the proposed mentoring substructure and superstructure are applicable in different professional and international contexts, and to identify common features of optimally supportive mentoring superstructures.
... Mentors also bring wisdom and experience from years of serving as a university president, whereas, the protégé brings a fresh approach as well as a desire to learn new things. Protégés who are passive recipients of the mentor's wisdom (Searby, 2014) must be accountable when interacting with the mentor. Many participants stated how they shadowed their mentors as a protégé in the workplace through internships or practicums and how these experiences enabled protégés an opportunity to see the mentors' dedication and consistency. ...
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to explore the role of mentoring and how it shapes university presidents in higher education. Using phenomenological case studies to understand the lived experiences of university presidents, we analyzed data from eleven interviews. Drawing on tenets of Zachary’s Four Phases of Mentoring, this study reflects the ways in which university presidents were mentored including the effect that mentoring has on executive leadership preparation and success. This study’s findings can inform our understanding of mentoring and the importance of graduate preparation programs, executive leadership programs and organizations, and professional associations for the university presidency.
This study shares the story of a mentor teacher and student teacher during a yearlong student teaching experience. It looks at how working with an educative mentor (prepared and supported to enact this role) can make a difference in the instructional practices and beliefs of a novice teacher, specifically by providing the student teacher with the opportunity to experiment and by the mentor being open to learning in his/her own teaching practice.
This article provides pedagogical activities to help develop students into “model mentees.” Being a competent mentee is especially significant for young women who aspire to executive-level management positions. The authors conducted a qualitative study of 14 executive-level women and gained insights into how mentoring relationships affected these women’s careers. For the past four semesters, the findings have been used to enhance the content of two business courses, and they were also used to improve the preparation of students who participated in a career-oriented business forum. Further research should be conducted to establish best practices for designing and integrating into business school curricula not just opportunities for students to connect with mentors but also the idea of being a model mentee, which is especially important for female undergraduates.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the leadership role(s) of vice-principals in diverse, multi-ethnic schools and communities and understand the supervision and mentoring support they require to help them become more effective leaders within them. The research questions guiding this study were: what forms of mentoring do vice-principals, who serve in diverse schools in rapidly changing communities, require? Who is in the best position to provide mentoring for them? Design/methodology/approach The author used a qualitative case study methodology. Data that were analyzed for this paper were drawn from surveys, semi-structured interviews, one focus group interview and school and community documents from three data sets within two case studies in Canada. The first data set was part of the author’s doctoral research program in a diverse school in Alberta; the other case study was part of a larger collective case study that the author is currently involved with and leading in New Brunswick. Several vice-principals were part of both studies. The author then constructed a survey questionnaire specifically focused on mentoring vice-principals in diverse schools. Vice-principals in both provinces, who were part of the two studies, were invited to respond to the follow-up survey. Using a constant comparative analytical approach, the author coded and analyzed the data from all three sets together. The author formed several categories and ultimately collapsed the categories into five distinct themes that illustrated and confirmed the social realities of the vice-principals in their schools and communities. Findings Five key findings emerged from the analysis of the data sets. They were building leadership capacity, fostering positive relationships, increasing global awareness, reducing stress and anxiety and becoming a diversity champion and peace-builder. Originality/value To this researcher’s knowledge, this paper contributes to a significant gap in the literature on vice-principals who serve in diverse schools and communities.
Full-text available
PurposeThe purpose of this article is to identify and examine root causes of the failure of school-based mentoring to realize its full potential. Design/methodology/approachThe article draws on the re-analysis of data from two major mixed-method empirical studies carried out in England. It focuses on data generated from interviews with beginner teachers and mentors in both primary and secondary schools. FindingsThe findings point to a failure to create appropriate conditions for effective mentoring in England at the level of the mentoring relationship, the school, and the national policy context. Practical implicationsImplications of the findings include the need to achieve a greater degree of informed consensus on the meaning and purposes of mentoring in teacher education, and to ensure that mentors of beginner teachers are appropriately trained for the role. Originality/valueThe article identifies the practice of judgemental mentoring or “judgementoring” as an obstacle to school-based mentoring realizing its potential and an impediment to the professional learning and wellbeing of beginner teachers. It also points to worrying indications that judgementoring may be becoming, through accrued experiences, the default understanding of mentoring in England.
Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in pressure placed on schools across the nation due to high-stakes accountability policies (Klar, 2014). It comes as no surprise that low performing schools feel constant pressure to raise the measured academic performance of all students. Rarely, do low-performing schools who have overcome challenging circumstances in order to increase academic achievement, get spotlighted. Educators need to identify the common factors attributed to increased student achievement. This can be achieved by examining the lessons and examples of high-performing schools so that all schools can succeed regardless of circumstances.
This literature review examines the prevalence and role of informal student–faculty mentorships, focusing on the formation, development, and dissolution of such relationships within graduate education, with reference to the undergraduate context. Empirical research on the graduate level more clearly distinguishes informal from formal mentoring, giving it priority attention here. Content is organized around seven topics: clarification of informal mentoring; benefits and drawbacks of spontaneous relationships; personality characteristics of mentor and protégé; functions of mentoring; frameworks of informal mentoring phases; formation, development, and termination; and new types of mentoring relationships.