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The Protégé mentoring mindset: a framework for consideration

Linda J. Searby (Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education

ISSN: 2046-6854

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




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?


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.


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.


To this researcher's knowledge, there has not been a Protégé Mentoring Mindset Framework of competencies created in mentoring research.



© 2014 Linda J. Searby

 The author wishes to thank her first research colleague, Dr Jenny Tripses, with whom she began work on protégéship 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.


J. Searby, L. (2014), "The Protégé mentoring mindset: a framework for consideration", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 255-276.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Authors

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