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The Power Differential in Mentoring Relationships

Updated: Apr 2

There are many uses of power. Some good, some not so good.





What I want to discuss in this post is how Mentors understand and respect the Power Differential that exists between the Mentor and the Mentee. These topics are discussed in greater detail in the Mentor Training Course: Ethics of Mentorship.


By way of definition: "The Power Differential is the inherently greater power and influence that helping professionals have as compared to their clients."


There is a negative connotation to the term ethics in the current business vernacular. It seems only to be mentioned in connection with behavior that has damaged others and tarnished the reputations of the firms the transgressors represent.


But I don't want you to think of the ethics of Mentorship is a negative context.

We need to think of the Ajito Code of Ethics as a summary of wisdom derived from the collective mistakes and successes of all of those who have worked with good intentions in the fields of helping others.


How we think of our ethics will make us better Mentors and help us more consistently bring optimal outcomes to the Mentees that are trusting us to do just that.


First we need to understand that there are three distinct types of power.

  • Personal Power: This is the power that we are born with. It is what we have earned simply by being.

  • Role Power: The power that is associated with the titles that the individual has earned. Doctor, VP, orTeacher are a couple of examples. The power is derived from the assumption that the title indicates a certain level of competence or wisdom.

  • Status Power: This is really an enhanced personal power and influence that is culturally conferred. Examples of this are age, and wealth. A Mentor might experience greater power if there is an age difference or if the he/she appears to be significantly more wealthy.

It is important that Mentors recognize and acknowledge these sources of power differential because in this helping relationship, Mentors have responsibilities that accompany the power differential role.


Mentor Responsibilities:

  • Setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries

  • Protecting trust and being trustworthy

  • Creating needed safety

  • Staying in charge

  • Holding the larger container of wholeness and hope

  • Being sensitive to your impact

  • Inviting and being appropriately responsive to feedback

  • Keeping your own personal life in the background so that it won't interfere with being in service to your client

  • Tracking and attending to the relationship

  • Resolving difficulties and being accountable

  • Making an assessment of results

  • Keeping appropriate records

Please. check back for further updates to this category.

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