Ikigai and Moai Principles Offer a Transformative Mentoring Approach

Written by: Angela McGuire | January 2024

Over the past year I have had the privilege of participating in the genesis of a Blues Zones city in the southeastern region of the United States. Blue Zones employs evidence-based solutions to help people live better and longer by making healthier choices easier where people live, work, learn, and play (www.BlueZones.com). Ikigai and Moai are two of the tenets intertwined in the Blue Zones model for living a healthier life.  Though these concepts aren’t specific to mentoring, exploring their relevance to mentoring relationships unveils a unique synergy that fosters personal growth and connection.

Ikigai, often described as the intersection of what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for, serves as a compass for individuals seeking purpose. When applied to mentoring, it becomes a guiding principle for both mentors and mentees, encouraging them to align their passions, skills, and contributions within the mentoring dynamic. Mentors, driven by their Ikigai, can provide more meaningful guidance. By identifying their own purpose and values, mentors can inspire and be a guide to their mentees as they explore their own unique intersections. This alignment facilitates a deeper connection and a more authentic mentoring experience. For mentees, understanding their Ikigai helps them set clear goals and expectations. It empowers them to actively seek mentors whose experiences and values resonate with their own Ikigai. This intentional approach contributes to a mentoring relationship that goes beyond skill development, nurturing personal and professional fulfillment.

Moai is a Japanese term for social support groups which emphasizes the importance of community and shared experiences. In mentoring relationships, Moai principles encourage the formation of supportive networks around the mentor-mentee relationship. This collective support system amplifies the impact of mentoring, providing diverse perspectives and shared wisdom. The research of mentoring scholars like Kathy Kram and Belle Rose Ragins shows the power of developmental networks such as these on mentee growth. Kram and Ragins (2007) encourage those in mentoring relationships to not only take part in developmental networks but to strengthen their value through mutual learning and fostering more connections. Mentors and mentees can engage in group discussions, collaborative projects, and shared learning experiences. This not only enriches the mentoring process but also creates a supportive network that extends beyond individual pairings. By intertwining Ikigai and Moai dynamics in mentoring, a collective sense of purpose emerges. Mentoring relationships go beyond individual journeys but also contribute to a broader community with shared values and goals. This interconnectedness enhances the overall impact, creating a ripple effect of positive influence.

In mentoring relationships, the incorporation of Ikigai and Moai principles offers a transformative approach. Mentors and mentees, driven by their unique purpose, find enhanced meaning and fulfillment in their journey together. As the mentoring landscape evolves, embracing these Japanese concepts can pave the way for more purposeful and connected relationships.

Ragins, B. R. and Kram, K. (2007). The Handbook of Mentoring at Work. Sage Publications, Inc.

3 Types of Group Mentoring

3 Types of Group Mentoring

When we think of mentoring relationships, we usually think of one-on-one interactions with a mentor and a mentee. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. In fact, for many organizations, group mentoring has become an equally effective (and often more efficient) way to offer mentoring services to employees. But what is group mentoring and how does it work? Here are three ways to approach group mentoring.

Team mentoring

This one is pretty self-explanatory. A group of mentors, each with their own unique set of skills and mentoring expertise, work with mentees to give them a well-rounded and multi-faceted mentoring environment.

Note: Make sure team mentors are given the necessary tools and training to make their relationships successful.

Peer mentoring

Again, the name says it all. There’s a lot that can be learned from our fellow mentees; allowing mentees to, in turn, mentor their peers is a powerful way to reinforce mentoring practices and instill leadership qualities beyond traditional mentoring settings.

Note: Goal-setting and self-direction are key. It also helps if peer mentors have similar roles, experiences and interests.

Facilitated group mentoring

What if your mentoring journey was influenced by those seeking mentoring services just like you? Chances are, you’d be exposed to new and exciting ways of thinking. That’s the idea behind facilitated group mentoring. While you still work with a traditional mentor figure, your fellow mentees will help set agendas, group goals and influence your experience in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to predict.

Note: Make sure every member of the group has a specific role and responsibility; this ensures people don’t feel left out or unheard. It also helps to limit mentoring groups to eight people or less.

So, what do you think? Is group mentoring for you? Have you tried it in the past? Let us know.


Group Mentoring: Who will fill these seats?


More and more businesses and organizations are turning to group mentoring to enhance the growth and development of their employees and accelerate organizational learning.
Why is there so much interest in group mentoring?

Group Mentoring. . . .

  • Leverages the experience and expertise in an organization
  • Provides an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships across, down and through the organization
  • Promotes diversity and inclusion
  • Offers mentors and mentees an opportunity to expand knowledge
  • Exposes participants to multiple levels of expertise and organizational knowledge
  • Creates shared understanding and alignment
  • Maximizes time availability of qualified mentors and participants
  • Creates a more efficient and scalable way to promote learning and development
  • Complements and enhances one on one mentoring

Mentoring groups are structured in multiple ways. The possibilities are unlimited, from peer-to-peer, leader-led, virtual, nested configurations, to DIY groups . . . and the list goes on. The reasons you articulate for initiating group mentoring will drive the composition and structure of your mentoring groups.

Who will fill these seats in your organization? In which seat will you be sitting?