Inspiring Success in Youth Leaders through Effective Mentoring

Presented at Laurel Highlands Council, BSA, Program Training Conference, March 24, 2018


Target Audience

Who is this presentation for?

What is Mentoring?

Who Were Your Mentors?

Coaching vs Mentoring

Coaches (broadly speaking):

Mentors (broadly speaking):

Mentors take a long-range view of Mentee’s growth & development, they help clarify the goals/destination but do not map out the route, they offer encouragement and “cheerleading” but typically not specific “how to” advice.

A Mentor is:

Models of Mentoring

Mentees & Mentors should agree on the relationship; random assignment w/o Mentee input hasn’t worked as well.

Planned Mentoring


Mentors do NOT:

Do not become the “white knight”!

Mentors DO:

That does not necessarily mean agree, rather, seek to understand.
Encourage Mentee to think out loud about his or her own thinking.
Allow Mentee to make mistakes in a low-stakes context.

Mentor relationships form over time

What Makes for Good Mentors and Good Mentoring?

Mentors need to model these to be effective.

Desired traits

Mentor Skills

Active listening

An active, effortful process of working to fully comprehend the explicit and implicit messages from someone else. The effort is to understand, NOT to give advice or solve problems. This does not mean the listener is unresponsive, but responses from the listener should only demonstrate, confirm, and emphasize understanding.


The Mentor and Mentee should agree on the frequency and modes of communication. Multiple channels should be used and the Mentor needs to demonstrate availability. Regular (eg weekly) communication helps foster effective mentoring.

Where can Leaders Use Mentoring?

A mentor in Scouting can find many opportunities to build and use the mentoring relationship. As the mentee is involved in planning and going on activities, he or she will have opportunities to encounter challenges and obstacles and lead others; times when the benefits of a mentor are obvious.

Potential skills that the mentee might be guided to pursue/develop could include Goal setting, project planning, and “SMART” goals (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-based).

Mentees Benefit from their own investment in the process of mentoring

Today’s Youth

People of different times, different generations, live in different worlds. This creates barriers to communication. And these days it involves real differences in the way communication occurs. For example, the use of texting, email, facebook or other communication mediums in addition to traditional methods such as face-to-face talking.

An older ("experienced") person mentoring a younger person is a typical, traditional form of mentoring, but today the case of youth mentoring people older than they has become a thing. Businesses have found, for example, that a younger person may offer valuable mentoring assistance to older executives in managing social media or using new technology.

Recent generations are lumped into categories and described as having similar characteristics. A moment's reflection should lead to the realization that these categories contain literally millions of people and the differences among them may far exceed the similarities or the differences between them. Take these divisions with a nice large spoonful of salt.


Born 1980-2010-ish. These are our newer adult leaders, our young adults, our Scouts, and our Webelos. Their characteristics purportedly include that they:


Born early 1960s-early 1980s. Their characteristics purportedly include that they:


Born 1946-1964. Their characteristics purportedly include that they:

Mentoring and Gender

BSA has included girls 14 and above and women for some time. Now younger girls are welcome as well and in the not too distant future the first female Eagle Scout will accept her honor.

In terms of mentoring, the presence of female Scouts does not demand a fundamental change in what a mentor is or what one does. At the same time, mentors of both sexes should be aware of and sensitive to how well they "fit" as mentors for a given Scout.

Should female Scouts have only female mentors? No. This is too likely to lead to an implicit "glass ceiling" effect. At the same time, adult mentors of Scouts of the opposite sex must be especially sensitive to the relationship and whether they are best able to guide their mentee in a given situation. And as always, the principles of 2-up leadership will be very important.

Though rarely discussed, it is worth noting that there is no implicit requirement that someone have only one mentor. In reality individuals are likely to have more than one mentor both over their careers and at any given time.

Society now more than ever expects individuals to take on multiple, shifting, simultaneous roles. In the same way, individuals are more likely than ever to have, need, and benefit from more than one mentor. This requires mentors to be aware of their role in a more complex social network. They should not assume that the mentor relationship is a dyad.

Summary/Review of Objectives


The following sources were used in the preparation of this material and they are good resources which you are encouraged to investigate directly.

This content was used for a presentation at the 2018 Program Training Conference for the Laurel Highlands Council.