The X Factor lessons for youth mentoring

The home of professional youth mentoring


Mentoring frameworks vary so much that it's often difficult to pin down ‘how’ mentoring should be done and how mentoring programmes ‘should’ be designed.

Surprisingly the X-Factor TV show has a few pointers on mentoring best practices that we can all learn from.


Some people watch the X Factor for the amazing singing and the entertainment factor, and some like me are glued to the TV to witness and reflect on their mentoring and the IAG (information, advice, and guidance) the judges offer contestants. 


It is very clear that past winners of the tv contest X-Factor were successful not only because of their talent and likability but because of the information, advice, and guidance they chose to follow from their mentor. 


One could say that the ‘X factor’ mentoring programme has the ideal mentoring framework, which is cyclical in nature, has clear aims, objectives and. The mentor and mentee understand each other’s roles, responsibilities, and the level of commitment needed to achieve the agreed goals. Matters that should not be taken for granted. 


What’s even more important than the mentee meeting their goals, is the development of a trusting and integral relationship; an essential ingredient to the mentee’s success. As a mentor, even if your family or friends call you weird or quirky, quiet or as boring as a wet weekend in Wigan, your mentee will value your honesty, openness, expertise, and ability to share your interests and relevant experiences. In addition to this ‘essential ingredient’ is cultivating a USP in providing an opportunity for your mentee to speak with an expert that has already achieved the goals they are working towards. Now you may not know Stormzy or Richard Branson, but everyone knows someone that is willing to share their ‘story’ and the tips and tricks of achieving success. Could you go the extra mile to arrange a 10-minute phone conversation, between a successful person in your network and your mentee? 


To be a mentor, you don’t have to be a Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne or world-class mentor like Tony Robbins, but everyone can inspire and guide others. Most mentees value and positively respond to mentors who offer productive information advice and guidance in an open, honest and genuine manner. Can you do this?  


The X Factor’s mentoring framework is a high-impact programme design, that delivers maximum effectiveness to the mentee.  A cycle of assessment, constructive feedback, the opportunity to practice the advice and guidance in the real world, then reassessment.  Delivered correctly, this framework will also model to the mentee how to continue making progression by ‘self mentoring', when the mentee – mentor relationship is over. 


Most mentors and mentees have anxieties about entering a mentoring relationship and to be truthful on first seeing each other, many wonder what they have got themselves into. Whether you are a teacher mentoring a student, an experienced teacher mentoring an NQT, or an X Factor Judge mentoring a ‘wanna-be’ pop star, get to know your mentee first and be genuinely interested in what they say. We all have something in common, so find what I call the anchor that will create a bond between you both. Regardless of where your mentee comes from you can achieve a successful relationship that does not rely on ‘cultural fit' to work. 


The X factor mentoring framework is a very simple design that provides the mentee with healthy focused information advice and guidance that they can take away, practice, and learn from in the real world. 


Its also an excellent framework that creates winners, that go on to self-mentor and mentor others in how to succeed.


Written by Elaine Isadora Thomas (The Mentoring Lab, Founder Ceo)

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