Lesson #3 Merlin to Miss Moneypenny

Mentor Chris Vogler

The character of the Mentor, as depicted in myths, film and TV drama, is not necessarily a single person; indeed it may not be a person at all. It is, in fact, a series of functions. It’s important to understand this distinction – person Vs function. What’s more these functions are essential to support any leader on his or her journey.



The five key mentor functions

Each mentor function provides something essential for the individual. And each has pitfalls to be avoided or managed.


GhandiThe Hero – a role model who inspires

He or she has travelled the journey before and represents what you could become. This function could be fulfilled by a deceased or fictitious person, or even something inanimate. It’s whatever inspires you to become the best possible version of yourself.

mentor lesson


  • Heroes may fall from grace, e.g. Nick Leeson at Barings Bank
  • The Hero mentor could become remote
  • The focus may be on the mentor not the individual


GandhulphThe Wizard – the bringer of gifts

Gifts may include: information, resources, tools, courage and advocacy; this mentor has the ear of the gods.

Mentor lesson 2


  • It may not be appropriate to apportion resources unequally. Advocacy may be seen as favouritism or nepotism.


Ribbin williamsThe Teacher

The teacher provides guidance, advice, skills and confidence to forge ahead

Mentor lesson 3


  • Danger of being the expert and ‘telling’ rather than allowing the Individual to discover for him or herself



Mary Poppins

The Protector – a healer and confidant

The protector provides a place of safety and respite.

Mentor Lesson 4


  • risk of creating dependency, may prevent the individual from growing and maturing, risk of undermining the role of the line manager.




JiminyCricketThe Keeper of the Vision – acts as your conscience

The keeper of the vision holds others to account on the things they promised. He will act as your conscience if you fall short of your espoused values. He may prod, encourage, kick start or act as a catalyst for action.

Mentor lesson 5



  • In order for this to work you must have ‘permission’ from the individual to act in this way.
  • There is also a danger that we may impose our own values on the individual.
  • You must also be prepared for resistance when you challenge. In the original fairy tale of Pinocchio by Collodi, Pinocchio crushed the cricket underfoot to shut him up.


Other lessons from Hollywood mentors

The mentor’s job is done

Often half way through a film the mentor dies – Judy Dench as M in Skyfall. This indicates that he or she is no longer needed. Or a new mentor emerges. In the film Star Wars, Obi Wan Kenobi becomes a ‘hero mentor’ when he sacrifices his life and passes the baton of mentor to Yoda to enable Luke Skywalker to continue his journey.

Reciprocal mentor

Sometime the role is reversed or reciprocal. Thelma and Louise for example the mentor role switches towards the end of the film. Many years ago in Pearl Assurance (as it was then) younger people mentored older executives in the use of technology.

Internalised mentor

In mature characters the mentor function becomes an internalised code of honour: e.g. The Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven

Multi- functional mentor roles

The functions of the mentor may be met from different sources: e.g. James Bond – M = Guide & conscience, Q = Wizard/inventor /gift giver, Miss Moneypenny = Protector.

As you navigate your own leadership challenges make sure all of the mentor functions are fulfilled one way or another.




    Hollywood Lessons in Leadership™ – Lesson #3 of 6

© 2016 Anne Oberon, http://www.oberonconsultants.com