Archivist’s Pick: The Real Meaning of Mentoring

This piece is the first of what will be monthly contributions to the Drucker Exchange by the Drucker Institute’s archivist, Bridget Lawlor. By drawing lessons from the vast treasure trove of papers and other objects that are collected in Peter Drucker’s achives, Bridget is giving new life to decades-old material.

In 1995, Peter Drucker sent a facsimile to Carolina Biquard, founder of the Fundación Compromiso in Argentina. Drucker served as a long-distance mentor to Biquard and corresponded frequently with her via fax—his favorite mode of communication, even during the computer age—over a period of about seven years.

Drucker often wrote about the importance of mentorships, not just for the mentee but for the mentor as well. “Just as no one learns as much about a subject as the person who is forced to teach it, no one develops as much as the person who is trying to help others to develop themselves,” Drucker noted in his 1973 landmark Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices.

In this exchange, Drucker emphasizes the importance of being both student and teacher when serving as a mentor. “No, Carolina you are wrong and [Longtime Girl Scouts leader] Frances [Hesselbein] is right. YOU are not Frances’ disciple and certainly not my ‘grandchild’. YOU ARE OUR COLLEAGUE AND OUR ASSOCIATE AND AS MUCH OUR TEACHER AS WE ARE YOURS—you just began a little later.”