Mentoring and Leadership Development in the Officer Corps of the United States Air Force
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSONAFB OH SCHOOL OF SYSTEMS AND LOGISTICS
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Mentoring is a relatively long-term relationship between an older and a younger adult where the senior member of the relationship plays a major role in shaping and molding the younger member in his or her professional career. Previous research in the private sector indicated that a majority of the senior executives of major United States corporations had mentors who helped them in their careers. This research surveyed the students at College to determine the prevalence of mentoring among high potential officers in the Air Force and to determine the effects of mentoring on them. This investigation found that approximately half of the respondents had experienced the mentoring phenomenon and that those who had mentors were, on average, slightly better educated than their unmentored counterparts. Mentored officers were also more likely to be promoted ahead of their contemporaries, were more highly satisfied with their career progress, and were more satisfied with their jobs. Significantly, mentoring appears to be an informal leadership development tool which is prevalent to the same degree in every major command. The most important roles played by the mentor, in the eyes of the protege, are those of role model and teacher. On the other hand, a significant percentage of the survey respondents who did not have mentors perceived mentoring as a being primarily a vehicle by which an officer receives a free ride to the top, sponsored and protected by the mentor.
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