I attended an outstanding leadership event that I highly recommend to you. Leadercast 2015 brought together some very inspirational leaders via technology to a global audience. (http://events.leadercast.com/live) One of the many messages that I took away from this event was the need for leaders to develop trust. Trust is two way just like the relationships you build as a leader or as a mentor. Without trust you have no relationship and you have no leader.
In a recent article on the mentoring of CEOs one of the key elements of success is “trust”. We talk a lot about that in the programs that we provide. Building the trusted relationship is the first phase of the mentoring relationship. Without it you cannot bring as much value to the table as you can if there is a high level of trust. I have been in mentoring relationships where the chemistry was not there and we did not make a connection. Consequently there was little if any trust. You can’t expect to make a solid connection with everyone that you spend time with. Your role is to then find someone that can make a connection with this particular person.
All relationships have some element of trust. So how does this equate to leadership and mentoring. Let’s look at the definition of leadership. “Leadership is one type of human relationship in which some people put their trust in another who they feel is the most qualified – who we call the leader – to guide the group toward a common goal. Let’s not forget that the word leader also means guide.”(Leaders Don’t Command – Jorge Cuervo) When we look at this from the mentoring perspective – mentoring is all about developing a trusted relationship where those that you spend time with put their faith and trust in you as their mentor. You are guiding them to the answers for the many questions and challenges that they have to deal with on a personal and professional basis. You are not there to tell them what the answers are – but you are there to guide them to the answers. It is not always about having the industry specific knowledge to be that person’s guide/mentor but it is definitely about knowing the questions that you need to ask to enhance their critical thinking skills.
Self-awareness was another message that I took away from the Leadercast event and I have also found a lot of reference to it in Jorge’s book. To be an effective leader we need to be able to change the behaviors of others. We cannot be successful in doing this if we are not willing to change our own behaviors. I am doing some effective mentoring in an organization where the manager is not willing to change his/her behavior and is expecting employees to conform to their style. Unfortunately the style is outdated – very much a command and control leadership style and that no longer works. We need to be focused on creating a learning and development environment where everyone grows on a personal and professional basis. I am delighted that the senior management in the organization understand that we need to make some changes as the idea of a revolving door of employees coming and going is not one that we want to have in place. Attraction, recruitment and retention become three words that we dread in this type of situation. Self-awareness is key when we are looking at how one is successful as an effective mentor. Understanding who we are and what we are capable of is the first step followed by an ongoing process of self-assessment. We want to make sure that we continue to bring value to the relationship.
In the book “Leaders Don’t Command” Jorge states that “good leadership requires an abundance of two values: one quality is the humility to understand and accept that leadership is not a quality that you own, but rather a pact made between the group and the leader. When the group stops buying what the leader is selling, it replaces it with another. In reality, leadership is the team’s job! It is not something you have, but rather something you do. The other value is the generosity to accept the former and still work for the good of the group above your own interest and ego.” When we look at effective mentoring in the same regard we see that organizations that create a mentoring culture create an environment of learning and development. This becomes everyone’s task where they grow on a personal and professional basis themselves but play a part in the same growth of those that are part of the same team. We can all learn something from those around us. We sometimes have to swallow our pride and our ego. Working with an effective mentor helps us move forward with that journey.
Mentoring does play a huge role in the development of leadership skills. The first step however is in recognizing the business value for embracing mentoring. The second step is to get your organization to recognize the business value for embracing mentoring. I encourage you to reach you to me if you wish to explore that journey and realize the value that mentoring can bring to your personal and professional growth. Together we can bring mentoring to your organization and see the power of a learning and development environment fueled by strong leadership and mentoring as it propels you and your organization into the future. “Can we afford not to?”
2. Leaders Don’t Command – Jorge Cuervo. ATD Press 2015 – http://www.amazon.ca/Leaders-Dont-Command-Ingenuity-Collaboration/dp/1562869353