5 Types of Mentors and Why We Need Them All

Last Updated on: September 18, 2023

Mentors are crucial in our personal and professional lives. They offer unique insights through their collective experiences and wisdom.

A mentor is an experienced and trusted person in a particular field and guides a less skilled person to improve positively.

Mentors can mold our character — for better or for worse. That is why it is essential that the values we hold dear be in line with theirs. Else, we will be dragged into their line of thinking.

Why Are Mentors Important?

It does not matter what field you want to learn; if you’re going to excel, you will need a mentor’s guidance.

Whether it be to learn the ins and outs of your corporate job, improve on your sport, or enhance your trading setups in the stock market, whatever it is, you will need a mentor to overcome obstacles that are difficult to conquer.

Mentors offer a unique perspective on things that we want to improve on. In mentorship, skills and experience are much more important than age alone. 

For instance, a 30-year-old financial planner can give us more information about personal finance than a 60-year-old retiree with no savings.

Through mentorship, we can shorten our learning curve and avoid costly mistakes that other people make. The important thing is that we listen carefully to learn from their experience.

As a mentee, it will be our responsibility to have an open mind and heart to discern what we want to get out of our mentors.

I don’t have a single mentor. Instead, I have five groups of mentors from whom I take insights. The funny thing is that most of my “mentors” didn’t know I considered them my mentor.

We don’t have the usual mentor-mentee relationship because I want to take as much as I can from several groups of people while also discarding what is not helpful for me to improve as much as I can.

1. Traditional Mentors

An Old Woman Mentors A Younger Woman.
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When we say mentors, we often think of the traditional type. They offer a mentor-mentee relationship, with a more experienced individual passing their wisdom to a younger learner.

Mentor-mentee relationships are also a common exercise in the corporate setup wherein coaching and mentoring sessions are typically held.

When I was still in my old corporate job, my team leaders and managers were usually my mentors. They helped me improve professionally and understand the business processes I will participate in.

My older family members and my teachers were also my mentors. From my earliest memories of elementary school to college and graduate school, I often seek their counsel regarding professional and personal matters.

Likewise, everyone needs someone experienced in the field we want to excel in who can directly mentor us.

2. Peer Mentors

Four Women Sitting Around A Table Laughing.
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Growing up, we spend more time with our friends and classmates than anyone else. We shape our ideas and aspirations by teaching each other what we know.

Peer mentors are people of the same age or experience level as us.

For instance, I consider some of my close friends as my mentors. They usually offer ideas to supplement my need for more understanding of their field of expertise while drinking coffee.

When I started working, my more knowledgeable and experienced peers guided me in my first few months. They taught me about the company and the work processes I must understand to succeed.

And since we are of the same age group, I am more comfortable asking them seemingly obvious questions and learning as quickly as possible. I am also blessed to have unselfish workmates.

Likewise, you need to be careful when looking for your peer mentors because what they advise is not sound. So, you must align your values with theirs. 

3. Reverse Mentors

Two Women Looking On A Computer Screen
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Mentorship is a two-way process where both parties can learn from each other.

During reverse mentoring, someone younger than us may share their experience and knowledge about things they are more inclined to do – similar to how we teach our parents how to use a cellphone. 

For instance, a junior in your job can help you navigate the newer technologies you may not be familiar with.

Because of age, reverse mentors offer a different perspective from what we’ve been accustomed to. 

4. Indirect Mentors

A Child Reading A Bible
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The first three mentors are considered our direct mentors. We have better access to their guidance and advice. 

However, if we limit our mentor’s circle, we are also limiting our opportunities to learn. That is where our indirect mentors come in.

Indirect mentors are people or social icons we will probably never meet in person. However, their collective wisdom and knowledge are still available in other forms of media.

I have indirect mentors in books (fiction and non-fiction), podcasts, and blogs/vlogs. Indirect mentors are special because we can mix and match our mentors to what we want to learn.

I have a running mentor through Facebook groups, an investment mentor through YouTube and Investagrams, a writing coach through Medium, and a life mentor through the Bible.

5. Anti-Mentors

Three Monkeys Sculpture On A Bench.
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If mentors are people I want to emulate and learn from, the anti-mentors are the opposite. They are the people that I DO NOT want to imitate.

I have more anti-mentors than direct mentors because I can avoid their mistakes by watching them and their decision-making process.

This is because when I envision what I want to attain personally and professionally, my anti-mentor usually has already done the opposite.

I don’t know what they went through and what decisions they made that resulted in their current situation, so it is still essential to listen to them. 

But before we can get the most out of our anti-mentors, we should examine our life values first. Else we may repeat the same mistakes.

Final Thoughts:

We are all mentors and mentees. We need to learn from other people’s experiences and tap into their abundant knowledge to minimize our learning curve and save time, money, energy, and effort.

Being a mentee requires humility. We must learn to accept our mistakes and listen to sound counsel. We need to align our personal values with everything that we do.

Everything we do is connected and should not be separated from our personal and work lives.

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