“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Sir Isaac Newton


People advance through people. No man achieves anything of significance in isolation. They usually say no man is an island, but I say, even islands have trees. To advance in life, there are two kinds of professional relationships you must deliberately cultivate. The first is vertical relationships, and the second is horizontal. While vertical relationships speak to the relationships you have with your leaders and subordinates, horizontal relationships are the ones you have with your peers.


The relationships you have with your subordinates are meant to provide an opportunity for you to teach and add value to the upcoming generation. The relationships you have with those ahead of you in your career, are designed to add value via teaching. Although everyone cannot be your mentor, a mentoring relationship is one needed to advance your cause in life. Every great individual has or had a mentor.


  • Socrates had Plato.
  • Aristotle had Socrates
  • Alexander the Great who conquered the world at age 33, had Aristotle as his mentor.
  • Nelson Mandela had Mahatma Ghandi & Martin Luther King Jnr.
  • Christian Dior mentored Yves Saint-Laurent.
  • Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs.
  • And the list goes on


On the 11th of February 1990, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was released from prison. After serving about 27 years in prison, split between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison; he became an icon for freedom and civil rights globally. It is not common to find a sense of humanism in modern leaders. Undeniably, that is a rare quality that stands out only among a handful. Few leaders have expressed a sense of reconciliation and forgiveness as Nelson Mandela did towards his former adversaries and imprisoners. Mandela has been quoted as admonishing his followers and party not to humiliate or fight the opposition. His belief in the tenets of democracy forbade revenge and birthed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was led by his friend, the Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Mandela’s proclivity to read and quote Mahatma Ghandi was well known. It goes without saying that, like the two men whose work he followed the most, Mahatma Ghandi and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., his moral purpose and courage made him a towering hero in his time. Today, the Nelson Mandela Foundation exists to propagate the message he lived in his 95-year-old life for – peace and equality. Mandela’s life depicts the power of mentorship. Like his mentors, he fought for the end of apartheid and a classless society.


A mentor is one who is more experienced, wiser and who advises and trains someone of lesser experience, called a protégé. A mentor serves as a counsellor, guide, and a trusted advisor. A mentor is one who has been through a path you are attempting to go through. They have wisdom and experience which can prove valuable as you navigate the same path. One advice from a mentor can save you days of aimless or needless toil and sweat.


Since life is multidimensional, you could have multiple mentors for different areas of your life. You could have a health mentor, an educational mentor, a business mentor, a career mentor, a family life mentor, a life mentor etc. What is important is that you are sure the mentor has the right knowledge and experience to offer you. Experience is said to be a good teacher; and yes, you can learn from it; but it does not always have to be your experience. You can learn from the knowledge of another person. Mentorship saves you time and energy. Also must be deliberately cultivated.


One of the secrets I have found in examining the career progression of successful people in the workplace is that those with the right mentors travel farther than those without one. Beyond the technical knowledge, what mentors can impart are the softer ways of thinking, seeing life and its elements. A mentor sees farther than you currently project and provide perspectives in an instance that might take you years to arrive at, on your own. It does not make you inferior; instead, it makes you a better person.


As you seek to navigate your career; a mentor relationship will be valuable to you. It will help you make better career choices.


From our over 28 years of existence as the largest indigenous consulting firm in Nigeria, pcl. has found that when organisations are deliberate about instituting a mentoring programme for its employees, employees make better career decisions and are more engaged. Hence, high performing organisations leverage the power of mentoring to increase retention and engagement across grades and cadres. What we have found is that there are higher levels of knowledge management within the organisation.


You can contact us via sending an email to people@phillipsconsulting.net if you would like us to work with your organisation to set up a mentoring programme that delivers value to both employees and the business.


Written by:

Joshua Ademuwagun

Head of Advisory, People Transformation