AskDefine | Define protege

Dictionary Definition

protege n : a person who receives support and protection from an influential patron who furthers the protege's career

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  • (UK) /ˈpɹɒtəˌʒeɪ/, /"prQt@%ZeI/
  • (US) /ˈpɹoʊtəˌʒeɪ/, /"proUt@%ZeI/


  1. A person guided and protected by a more prominent person.
    His status as a protege of the great artist had many benefits, but was ultimately a burden.


a person guided and protected by a more prominent person

Related terms

See also


Verb form

  1. third-person singular indicative present of proteger
  2. second-person singular imperative of proteger


Verb form

  1. third-person singular indicative present of proteger
  2. second-person singular imperative of proteger

Extensive Definition

Mentorship refers to a developmental relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced partner referred to as a protégé—a person guided and protected by a more prominent person.


The roots of the practice are lost in antiquity. The word itself was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey. Though the actual Mentor in the story is a somewhat ineffective old man, the goddess Athena takes on his appearance in order to guide young Telemachus in his time of difficulty.
Historically significant systems of mentorship include traditional Greek pederasty, the guru - disciple tradition practiced in Hinduism and Buddhism, the discipleship system practiced by Rabbinical Judaism and the Christian church, and apprenticing under the medieval guild system.
Famous mentor-protégé pairs include:


There are two types of mentoring relationships: formal and informal. Informal relationships develop on their own between partners. Formal mentoring, on the other hand, refers to assigned relationships, often associated with organizational mentoring programs designed to promote employee development or at-risk children and youth.
In well-designed formal mentoring programs, there are program goals, schedules, training (for mentors and mentees), and evaluation. Mentors inspire their mentee to follow their dreams.
There are many kinds of mentoring relationships—from school- or community-based relationships to e-mentoring relationships.
In 1990, MENTOR created The Elements of Effective Practice, a tool for state and local mentoring organizations matching mentors and youth mentees in formal mentoring relationships of all kinds. Revised and updated several years later with a companion toolkit, The Elements guidebook reflects the latest in mentoring research, policies, and practices.

New-hire mentorship

For example, in some programs, newcomers to the organization (protégés) are paired with more experienced people (mentors) in order to obtain information, good examples, and advice as they advance. It is considered that new employees who are paired with a mentor are twice as likely to remain in their job than those who do not get mentorship.

High-potential mentorship

In other cases, mentoring is used to groom up-and-coming employees deemed to have the potential to move up into leadership roles. Here the employee (protégé) is paired with a senior level leader (or leaders) for a series of career-coaching interactions. A similar method of high-potential mentoring is to place the employee in a series of jobs in disparate areas of an organization, all for small periods of time, in anticipation of learning the organization's structure, culture, and methods. A mentor does not have to be a manager or supervisor to facilitate the process.


External links

Further reading

  • Alliance for Excellent Education. (2005) Tapping the potential: Retaining and developing high-quality new teachers. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
  • Boreen, J., Johnson, M. K., Niday, D., & Potts, J. (2000). Mentoring beginning teachers: guiding, reflecting, coaching. York, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.
  • Carger, C.L. (1996). The two Bills: Reflecting on the gift of mentorship. Peabody Journal of Education, 71(1), 22-29.
  • Cheng, M. & Brown, R. (1992). A two-year evaluation of the peer support pilot project. Evaluation/Feasibility Report, Toronto Board of Education. ED 356 204.
  • Clinard, L. M. & Ariav, T. (1998). What mentoring does for mentors: A cross-cultural perspective. European Journal of Teacher Education, 21(1), 91-108.
  • Cox, M.D. (1997). Walking the tightrope: The role of mentoring in developing educators as professionals, in Mullen, C.A.. In M.D. Cox, C.K. Boettcher, & D.S. Adoue (Eds.), Breaking the circle of one: Redefining mentorship in the lives and writings of educators. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Kram, K. E. (1985). Mentoring at work: Developmental relationships in organizational life. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.
  • Huang, Chungliang and Jerry Lynch (1995), Mentoring - The TAO of Giving and Receiving Wisdom, Harper, San Francisco.
  • Scherer, Marge (ed.). (1999) A better beginning: Supporting and mentoring new teachers. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
  • Project Blue Lynx, by Dan Ward. A journal article published by Defense Acquisition University, exploring an innovative approach to mentoring.
protege in German: Mentoring
protege in Korean: 멘토링
protege in Italian: Mentoring
protege in Japanese: メンタリング
protege in Finnish: Mentorointi
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