Expert Advice: Death of the Mentor – Why traditional mentoring isn’t working for modern businesses

Rebecca Morley, an internationally recognised coach and trainer shares here why traditional mentoring isn’t working for modern businesses.

Submitted by Cath Couzen

Rebecca Morley is an internationally recognised coach and trainer who understands what it takes to develop leaders who can step up and lead with clarity, vision and confidence in fast-growth environments. Recognised as one of the top 50 coaches in the world by CV magazine and author of Manifesto for Modern Leadership, she knows exactly what it takes to move people and businesses forwards with purpose and precision.

If you want to be a successful founder, you need the right support. Finding the right person, or people to support you can provide a boost, a shortcut, a way to avoid some of the mistakes, or wrong turns that you might otherwise encounter on your entrepreneurial journey. Of course you can get there on your own, but the right support will just get you there quicker.

Many a runaway business success story features a faraway look as the founder remembers the mentor that sent them down the right fork in the road. It’s no wonder so many entrepreneurs look for that one person that’s going to change their life, open that one door, share that magical one liner that makes all the difference.

Mentors are often mooted as a panacea for all founder ills, but I’m hearing more and more, especially from CEOs that the wrong mentor can actually slow you down and sometimes do more harm than good.

When we think of traditional mentors we tend to think of someone who has successfully completed the journey already. Someone that can give us some of the answers we crave, open some of the doors we can’t get through on our own.

But what if that advice was actually repackaged nostalgia? What if that meant that they lacked imagination about what was actually possible? What if they could only see things through their own lens? What if they thought that what you were trying to do wasn’t even possible – because they had never done it themselves?

For founders who are disrupting their industries, challenging norms, breaking long established rules, the right mentors can be hard to find. What’s more, in my experience, because they are ultimately engaged to share their experience, mentors can sometimes be reluctant, sometimes even stubborn, about seeing things from the point of view of even the founders they are trying to help.

The most common area that this falls down is a fundamental misunderstanding of the pace that disruptive, modern businesses need to be able to move at. With mentors counselling against risk taking and rule breaking rather than failing and, more importantly, learning fast. For all of these reasons, many founders and CEOs are turning to peer to peer mentoring as an alternative. These structured groups of like-minded business people with similar challenges but sometimes disparate experience is providing much needed objectivity and insight. Sometimes these are structured mastermind groups, sometimes group therapy, sometimes coaching or training programmes or as part of a wider structure such as an accelerator or incubator.

This coming together of founders alleviates not just the need for advice and support but also the loneliness that can so often prevail at this level.

The Rise of Peer to Peer networks – Why your peers could be your best mentors


According to Critical Eye 70% of CEOs report feelings of isolation as they continue to navigate the global pandemic. As a result there’s been a rise of CEOs and Founders seeking out peer to peer networks and here’s four reasons why:

Disruptive businesses

Often CEOs turn to mentors for support, yet as a leader trying to break new ground and disrupt industries, it can be difficult to find mentors who can relate – instead they’re turning to a range of voices for guidance and insight.

Operating in an unpredictable climate

CEOs and founders of fast pace companies are facing challenges minute by minute vs day by day. Psychologically they’re turning to peer to peer networks to seek advice and find creative solutions.

The pace of change

New Markets: Throughout the last year nimble brands have evolved and entered into new markets. Something that once would have taken years of planning has been executed in a matter of weeks. Take Deliveroo as an example.

New technology has emerged ahead of schedule, rapidly accelerating the progression of manufacturing processes and working from home situations.


Like everyone, CEO’s want to feel a sense of belonging too. This won’t come as a surprise as we’ve endured lockdowns and been forced to work from home. Co-living spaces have seen a rise in entrepreneurs moving into these shared spaces to not only network but also to feel part of a community.

The opportunity:

Award-winning executive coach and author, Rebecca Morley is available to explore how CEOs handle the stress and isolation in this current climate and why it’s important for leaders to find a safe space and the right peer to peer network.