Maximize Your Mentoring Relationship

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

"Mentorship is something that is done often, but isn’t often done well," says Kathy Kolbe, the leading authority on human instincts, an educator and bestselling author. Given how much time is spent mentoring at Northwestern Mutual, there are several ways to make the most of it according to Kolbe, who I had the pleasure of working with at a training recently in Arizona while completing my Kolbe Certification.

Kolbe teaches that we all have the same amount of conative strength and natural talent; however, how we use it is extremely individual. The word conative means how you most naturally do things when you are free to be yourself. The conative mind is different than intelligence (cognitive mind) or personality (affective mind). We can each learn how we most naturally take action and solve problems by taking the Kolbe Index A. Once you know your natural strengths, you can maximize your productivity, reduce stress and feel more confident striving in your own way. (For more information, or to take the Kolbe Index A, contact

Here are three ways to maximize mentoring, according to Kolbe:

1) A mentoring relationship is a huge investment of time for both parties. Do you have enough time to spend together (virtually or in person) for regular conversations? What are you trying to accomplish? It the amount of time you each have to spend enough to realistically make a difference?

2) Are you thriving in your own life to the level that it should be modeled for another person? Kolbe recommends asking yourself if you, in your work, are at least currently exhibiting "passion, purpose and persuasion," and ideally have "compassion, mission and vision." If you do not, YOU may need a mentor and/or coach to get to this level before you are ready to be a mentor.

3) Are you paired with the right person? "It's imperative that [the mentor] be paired with someone with no conative conflict in any of the four Kolbe Action Modes®. Conative conflict sets the mentor relationship up to fail. Not to say it's impossible, just very difficult to effectively mentor someone you conflict with," says Kolbe.

If you would like help setting up mentoring relationships, evaluating or improving your current mentoring relationship or to learn more, please contact us. Our team can help you make the most of this extremely vital part of building a successful practice.

Coaching Tip Once you have your Kolbe Index A, listen to the audio that comes with the report to hear Kathy Kolbe herself describe your unique talents and abilities. You share your score with only a small percentage of the population. Understanding your MO (modus operandi) can help you learn how to best spend your time and talents. Your conation will not change during your lifetime, so the sooner you know how you're wired the better!