Many studies have shown the importance of mentoring and coaching in supporting individuals’ career
and personal growth. However, changes in the career landscape in recent years, including global mobility,
an increasingly diverse workforce and shortened job tenures, present managers with new complexities
and uncertainties. The notion that one mentor can meet all of an individual’s developmental needs is
often inconceivable. Instead, the authors argue that there are a number of network support roles beyond
that of formal mentor. As individuals change roles, industries or organizations or relocate to different
countries, they need to build a “personal board of advisors” that fits their careers and their busy lives.
The authors’ research suggests that individuals seek career and psychosocial support from multiple
people. In their research the authors found that most of the members of people’s personal boards of
advisors played an active role in supporting the individuals’ career and personal development. However,
some individuals also mentioned the importance of people who had passed away but continued to
motivate and inspire them. The authors identified six types of personal board members: personal
guides, personal advisors, full-service mentors, career advisors, career guides and role models.
TYPE I: Personal Guides A personal guide is someone who had a supportive relationship with the
protégé in the past, but the two have limited or no current interaction. Personal guides may have been
closer to the protégé in an earlier period, but now they are mainly considered to be role models or
sources of motivation and inspiration.
TYPE II: Personal Advisors Personal advisors frequently interact with protégés outside of work.
They may serve as an emotional outlet or sounding board, offer friendship and/or provide acceptance
and confirmation of one’s capabilities.
TYPE III: Full-Service Mentors Full-service mentors provide the protégé with a wide range of
career and psychosocial support. These relationships are characterized by strong closeness and
TYPE IV: Career Advisors Career advisors have high levels of interaction with the protégé. Their
support is predominantly instrumental and career related, involving job or professional needs. As a
result, these relationships tend to be shorter in duration.
TYPE V: Career Guides Career guides have limited interaction with the individual or have fairly
limited relationships. Their involvement in the person’s professional/personal development is often
triggered by specific events — for example, a crisis or a critical career change. They step in only if and
when developmental assistance is needed.
TYPE VI: Role Models The authors’ research findings suggest that important developmental relationships don’t have to be close or even direct. In particular, the interaction between a protégé and
his/her role model (or, in some cases, an anti-role model) may be passive or even nonexistent.
By developing self-awareness and periodically reassessing their needs, the authors conclude, individuals
can find advisors who can help them meet their business and personal goals.