Contributors: Arthur Hopkins, Vice President; and Alex Bell, Vice PresidentToday, I participate as a mentor for many large cap CIOs. In some cases, it is an informal relationship, built through years of mutual respect that developed into a comfortable dialogue. However, I also provide monthly counsel and guidance as a service. To really understand the distinction of mentoring and its importance to the CIOs organization, one must first understand the definition of a mentor. Within an organization, you may have a manager, coach, mentor, advisor, advocate and subject matter expert. Each of these roles is important and has a place. Defining the parameters Manager Coach Mentor Advisor Advocate SME Position Authority Authority None None None None Permission Stated Stated Ask Ask Ask Ask Provide Direction Direction Approach Approach Praise Input Provoke Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Prejudice Often Often None None None None The mentor is a trusted advisor, advocate and subject matter expert who provides feedback, guidance and counsel without the repercussions of appraisal, promotion or dismissal. The key words are trust and repercussion. Trust comes when both parties agree on the parameters and boundaries of the relationship. Throughout my experience, regardless of the type of mentorship (formal or informal), it works best when both parties sit down and agree on what can be communicated to an outside party and what will remain between the two. Unlike the manager and coach, the mentor must ask for permission and takes the directive set by the mentee. The mentor has no place of authority unless it is given by the mentee.In many instances, I have CIOs who want to talk about every aspect of their careers and life; others only want to work on one aspect of their work-maybe an area of challenge and growth for them. Whatever the case, the mentor must understand the parameters of the relationship and operate within them. Repercussion is another key element of the relationship. When I am brought in to mentor a CIO or his\/her staff, the first things I ask are:\u00b7 What are you trying to achieve through the mentoring process? \u00b7 Do I have to report on what the mentee shares?It is critical that information between the mentor and mentee remains confidential under the agreement by each party. This type of relationship will never work if the information will be used in an adverse way against the person. Prejudice! Every time, I give a presentation and mention that prejudice is an important part of the mentor\/mentee relationship, my audience becomes uncomfortable and silence overcomes the room. Well, yes, prejudice is fundamental to the relationship. The mentor must come to the relationship with the following prejudices: The person is competent in his\/her current position and the person has all that it takes to do the job currently assigned to him\/her. The manager or coach may have facts or a set of perceptions that varies from your prejudices. However, to be effective, the mentor must come to the relationship with a set of prejudices. The importance of mentorshipSo, why is mentorship important? Well, a recent correspondence I received from a consulting firm in Boston indicated that CIO turnover remains at 24-30 months. Furthermore, a recent AT Kearney Study, IW 2005, states, the disconnect between business and IT continues to widen. The result is that the CIO is still not succeeding. Traditionally, CIOs grew up in a technology-centric environment where maintaining the day-to-day operation was the key driver. The CIO of the past grew up in an organization, learning the business and moving from one area of the technology department to the next until he\/she made it to the level of the CIO.However, in todays complex environment where the CIO is expected to be the business leader, the technology driver, the financial steward, as well as meeting the needs of the internal users, external customers, shareholders, officers, colleagues, etc., it has become an increasingly impossible function for one person to hold. A CIO must not only know how to create winning relationships with the business, but also understand the ramifications and implications of regulations, security, as well as focus on emerging applications, infrastructure, managing a staff, and the list continues on and on. Mentorship accelerates the learning of the CIO as well as provides a mechanism for gaining a broader perspective.Recently, a colleague of mine was asked to be a mentor for a new CIO of a global manufacturing organization. The interesting part of the relationship is that my colleague has never been a CIO. So, given that, how can he then mentor someone who is new to the CIO role? While having prior experience is helpful, what is more crucial is for the mentor to have a good sense of business so that he\/she can be a sounding board, as well as provide guidance and support where needed. So, once a week, my colleague meets with the new CIO for an hour and they spend the hour talking and sharing ideas. It is the only time out of the workweek that the CIO has the time to step away from the desk and explore new ideas. The ability to speak with someone that is far removed from the business brings a renewed sense of vigor for the new CIO. Mentorship for the CIO StaffMentorship is not only an important service for the CIO but it is also useful to his\/her staff. Todays CIOs spend less than 10 percent of their time grooming and developing their teams for their next position. It is just one more thing on their full agenda to perform. The need to advocate or develop mentorship programs is critical to the success of the CIOs organization. A new trend that I have seen is the CIO organization teaming with the human resources department to create formalized mentoring programs. Another program that I am familiar with is the Society for Information Management (SIM), Regional Leadership Forum (RLF) program. Although more of a leadership program than mentoring, it provides value-added mentoring. The RLF program is an intense, nine-month professional development program presented by SIM. The program is designed for rising IT professionals. It provides leadership development to participants and a broadened experience base to their organization. The program focuses on developing the next generation of leaders by offering an intense curriculum designed to introduce new ideas and challenge traditional ways of thinking. It also gives aspiring IT leaders an opportunity to speak and learn from experienced CIOs.As technology continues to evolve as a core business driver, organizations need IT executives with strong leadership and business acumen even more. They are now tasked with not only leading their team, but also leading their company by demonstrating business value through integrated technology. RLF and defined mentoring programs are channels to preparing aspiring IT leaders to lead this charge. However, there are many other programs, such as these that may be ideal for your staff. The importance is not selecting these specifically; it is having your staff participate in something that benefits them and ultimately your organization. SummaryWhat I have shared may not be new, innovative or earth shattering, however, with all that is on the agenda of the CIO, it sometimes takes a reminder to get us back to the fundamentals of what is required to make us successful. Think of mentoring (formal \/ informal) as a way to improve your own growth areas and consider it as a vehicle to improve the performance, promote the growth and develop career paths for your staff.