Adaptive Mentorship

Adaptive mentorship focuses on the relationship between a mentor and his/her mentee. It seeks to strike a balance between the developmental needs of the mentee and the adaptive support of the mentor. Sivajee (2017) stresses the importance of mentorship to the mentor, mentee and the company. She suggests there is a “triple win for everyone involved when mentees and mentors are able to form a relationship based on trust and honest dialogue.” Feedback provides valuable nuggets for the mentee to apply at a given level of development. For the company, mentorship helps to develop talent at different levels in the organization.

Adaptive Mentorship, Situational and Adaptive Leadership – Similarities

The adaptive mentorship model has some similarities to the adaptive and situational models of leadership. They all seem to focus on the relationship that leaders establish with their followers and mentees. They all present opportunities for leaders to adjust their mentorship role to the needs of those in their charge. Flexibility is common to all three models and is very important to the success of their applications. It can also be argued that none of these models represent traits that are inborn. These are models that can be applied based on the leader’s judgment and the situation with which he/she is faced.

Benefits and Challenges of Adaptive Mentorship

There are several benefits, both to the mentor and the mentee, of implementing the adaptive mentorship model. Ralph and Walker (2010), identify the three stages of the adaptive mentorship model which gives mentors some flexibility in its application.



One of the strengths of the adaptive mentorship model is its flexibility. Ralph and Walker suggest that it replaces the ‘one size fits all’ approach and allows the mentors to assess the mentee and provide support as they see fit. There is an opportunity to match the adaptive response to the developmental needs of the mentees.

The challenge with the adaptive mentorship model is the tendency for conflicts to develop between both mentor and mentee. Ralph and Walker mention that the early studies conducted on this model reveal the conflicts that can arise when there is a mismatch of the adaptive mentorship application and the support needed by the mentee at different developmental levels. The studies, however, suggests that the conflicts can be resolved if the misalignment can be addressed.

Personally, I find there is some merit to the application of the adaptive mentorship model in the classroom. I certainly find that as a teacher, there needs to be an emphasis on the idea that all learners are different. The adaptive mentorship model provides some room for assessment of individual students along the learning continuum and proper scaffolding of their learning.

Ralph, E., & Walker, K. (2010). Enhancing mentors’ effectiveness: The promise of the Adaptive Mentorship© Model. McGill Journal of Education, 45(2), 205-218.

Sivajee D. (2017) 3 Reasons Mentorship Leads to Winning for all Involved. CNBC. Retrieved from, July 21, 2017