Presence: A Requirement and Result of Successful Mentoring

by Mary Brougher, EVP, Bender Consulting Services, Inc.

As Mentors… we ask ourselves what we can do to have a positive impact on our mentee. We consider the activity of mentoring as time well spent when our mentee gains benefit from our mentoring efforts.

As Mentees… we often think about these mentoring program opportunities and wonder what we will get from participating in them, especially when we have limited time. Unless we get something from the mentoring program, it is not worth our time.

For nearly 3 decades, within the context of work, I have had the privilege of being mentored by, and serving as a mentor to others. I am grateful for the time my mentors have spent with me. The best way for me to show honor and respect to my mentors is to mentor others.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
Picture of Mary Brougher (center) after being inducted into the Susan M. Danields Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. Mary is onstage at the USBLN Conference with Derek Shields (left) and Genelle Thomas (right) of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition. [Photo Courtesy of Lawrence Roffee Photography]

This year, it was a great honor for me to be inducted into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame at the USBLN Conference. As part of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition, the hall of fame was established to honor those who are making a difference in the lives of youth and adults with disabilities through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities.

Based on my mentoring experiences, I believe presence is both a key requirement and a key result of a successful mentoring relationship.

Why is presence a requirement of successful mentoring?

One definition of presence is, “the state or fact of being present, as with others or in a place.” We cannot serve others as a great mentor if we are not focused and present. Our commitment to spending time with our mentee on a regular basis establishes our credibility as caring, reliable and committed.

Our commitment to spending time with our mentee on a regular basis establishes our credibility as caring, reliable and committed.

Today, mentors fill a variety of “places” — in-person, telephone or online — but all require time and attention.

As mentees, we cannot expect to learn from others if we do not show up for our regular meetings. We invest our time in activities that are important to us. The benefit we realize from our experience is directly proportional to the time we spend engaged in these activities. In addition to gaining value by learning from our mentor, as a mentee, we can also gain the benefit of securing a great reference that will be essential for us as we navigate through our career. Our mentor can only serve as a great reference, if we are perceived to be reliable, prepared and present.

Why is presence a result of successful mentoring?

Another definition of presence is, “the ability to project a sense of ease, poise, or self-assurance.” Within the context of work, this can be referred to as “leadership presence.” We all have greater opportunity to have impact in our communities, within our families, and at work when we have leadership presence. Those around us are confident that they are under the guidance of someone who is credible and knowledgeable. Leadership presence gives us the foundation to inspire people to expand their horizons, resulting in further developing their personal and professional competencies. The personality trait that is most responsible for leadership presence is self-confidence.

The personality trait that is most responsible for leadership presence is self-confidence.

We gain self-confidence by spending time with positive people, being prepared, and highlighting our accomplishments. These activities are all aspects of mentoring programs. As mentees, our leadership presence is amplified when we spend time building our professional network. Our mentor is a key member and connector to others.

Picture of the 2016 Bender Leadership Academy Graduates with Team Bender

This photo (to the left) represents the best in mentoring: business leaders, teachers, my boss, Joyce Bender and high-school students with disabilities. For over 15 years, students with disabilities, participating in the Bender Leadership Academy have learned about self-esteem, initiative, independence, standing up to bullying, work ethics and leadership. These graduates and those who mentor them have all demonstrated excellence in presence.

At this holiday season, remember to give the gift of presence.

At this holiday season, remember to give the gift of presence. Trust me, it will be more valued and appreciated than any perfect present you can purchase.


About the Author: Mary Brougher is EVP for Bender Consulting Services, Inc., a firm that partners with corporations and federal agencies to assist them in achieving their disability-focused diversity and workforce inclusion initiatives. Bender collaborates with customers to impact strategic planning, talent acquisition, training, and digital accessibility of workplace technologies. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Bender Consulting operates across the U.S. and Canada. Mary’s areas of responsibilities include leading disability employment strategic planning and digital accessibility consulting services, training, government services, and talent programs within the Bender enterprise. Please visit Mary’s Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame Induction Citation Page to read more about her work and impact through mentoring.


About the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC). The NDMC mission is to increase the awareness, quality, and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation. Member organizations share core values and align with the Coalition’s initiatives to streamline communication, standardize and systematize data collection, reduce duplication of efforts, increase mentoring opportunities, and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities.

The Coalition currently focused on four initiatives: providing a network for professionals in the disability mentoring space, developing a mentoring opportunity pipeline, inclusion in mainstream mentoring programs, and recognition outstanding contributions to mentoring as individuals and mentoring programs through the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Learn more about the National Disability Mentoring Coalition and our nearly 40 Members working together to provide more mentoring experiences for youth and adults with disabilities across the nation.


This #DisabilityMentors publication is a space for individuals to share stories and testimonials to elevate the importance of establishing a national disability mentoring policy and increase funding to enable more mentors to raise expectations, build confidence and positively impact youth and adults with disabilities.