I was blessed to spend some time the other day with some very brilliant leaders in our community and in the business world in general. We talked about a number of things and one of those topics centered on leaving a legacy. I want to take a few moments to share my thoughts and research on this topic and how effective mentoring plays a role in your legacy.
Webster’s dictionary defines legacy as, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” Your legacy could be something rather small and perhaps to some insignificant or it could be something large and of the utmost importance to a large number of people. You actually get to define what that legacy is going to look like. You get to define what need is being addressed or fulfilled by designing and implementing what will be your legacy. You get to define what the legacy will be for the organization and the people that work for that organization. It more than likely will not look the same. You may want to leave the organization in a very competitive position where the ROI is high for the organization and its stakeholders. You may want to provide the people in the organization with the tools that they need to sustain continued success. The same could be said for the organization.
Your legacy can go beyond the organization and its people. It can also be extended to family and community. Remember that what you decide to leave behind/hand down, can and will impact all of these areas so you do need to give this some thought.
In one of the articles that I have referenced below they talk about the five (5) stages of legacy building. Those are; identity and values, guiding foundational principles, courage and risk-taking, genuine care to advance others, and responsibility and accountability. Take the time to understand what each of those means to you as an individual and how it can and will shape your leadership as you continue to define and build the legacy that you want to leave. When I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror I want to know where we are going, how we are going to get there, and who am I going to be blessed to serve. All of those questions may not be answered on first gaze into that mirror but as we define the journey it will become a lot clearer.
Some things to consider when going on that journey are; “know what matters” – you need that deep sense of knowing what the journey is going to be and how important it is to you. You need to “get off the front line” – leave the day to day stuff for the people that know the best and that is the team that works with you. You need to focus on them – they are your most important piece to the journey that you are about to go on to build your legacy. They will be the ones to most benefit from all of this. “Nauseate yourself” – drive home your non-negotiable items. The last thing that you need to do is “leave”. Dragging this journey out is not the way to go. If you have prepared everyone as best that you can and you have prepared the organization then it is time for you to move on. It is time to begin the next chapter in your life’s journey.
My goal when I was still working in the corporate world was to do myself out of a job. My mission was to prepare someone to be my successor and to do so meant providing them with the tools to set them up to succeed. I leveraged effective mentoring as a means to do that. There were times where we had to engage a coach and we did that but the mentoring relationship continued to flourish and in some situations continues even today. A mentor can walk you through all these steps and help guide you on your journey to building a legacy. At the end of the day when you look in the mirror you need to feel as though you have accomplished something and that you have left things in a better place. My legacy and my calling is to leave the world a better place through the “power of mentoring”. When I look in the mirror I will know that I have helped those that I have touched to be successful, organizations that I have been blessed to work with a more productive and better place to work. I know that my family will be stronger as “the power of mentoring” is a transferable skill. Finally, I know that what we have done has indeed made a difference in the many communities that we have been a part of. That is my legacy – what is yours?
I received a phone call a week or so ago from my good wife and partner asking me if I had heard the term "organic leadership?" She was attending a conference and they kept referencing this style of leadership. Unfortunately, they didn't provide much more information about it in the conference. As a person who is passionate about the parallels between effective mentoring and great leaders I embarked on a mission to better understand what this leadership model/style was all about.
There are variations of what "organic leadership" means when one searches the internet. Here are some examples for you to consider:
"Organic leadership is a blend of leadership paradigms focused around a humanistic and compassionate style of influence. These blends of leadership attributes largely consist of servant, transformational and relational leadership styles. Organic leadership encompasses the humble attitude of servant leadership, making people the mission of the organization. It is transformational in that people will morph into the identity of their respective narrative community and organic leadership also reflects relational leadership in its attitude towards valuing people."(http://organicleadership.tumblr.com/post/185445185/organic-leadership)
"But what does organic mean in terms of leadership?
Organic Leadership - natural, motivating, compelling, effortless, inspiring hard work, creativity and innovation, fun
Non-Organic Leadership - unnatural, forced, coercive, minimal effort from subordinates, conformity, mechanical
An organic leader is one who we naturally want to follow, not because we'll get fired if we don't (though we may), but because something inside of us believes that they are adding value to our lives, businesses, and organizations.
Yet, while it may "feel" effortless, organic leadership is quite intentional. Organic leaders completely blow their non-organic counterparts away when it comes to one area: their ability to motivate and inspire people by meeting their higher needs." (http://www.schaefersblog.com/maslows-hierarchy-and-organic-leadership/)
"Yet authentic culture is not dictated from the top down. Authentic culture emanates from people-a natural expression of who they are, and arises out of shared experiences together inside and outside the office. Genuine culture is organic, not imposed." (https://hbr.org/2013/06/why-executive-teams-shouldnt-write)
We do have a leadership talent shortage that is global in nature so we do need to address that whether that is from Elaine Broe Coaching and Leadership courses or from this new brand of leadership. I find the blend of servant, transformational and relational leadership quite a dynamic grouping of skills as something that we have not spent a lot of time developing. Organic leadership when it is applied in the right context is a leadership style that will take organizations into the future. It touches on all the right points that our youth are looking for and what they aspire to become.
When I look at mentoring and its relationship with leadership I see a lot of the same skill sets when you compare all the elements of organic leadership (servant, transformational and relational). We talk about the effective mentor and how they are there to be of service, we look at the elements of a transformational leader and see a lot of similarities in skills and characteristics and finally an effective mentor is all about relationships - trusted relationships. Organic leaders and effective mentors are very similar.
The journey to become an effective mentor is one that requires continuous learning. The journey to become an organic leader is one that requires continuous learning. My favourite quote from Ken Blanchard, "when we stop learning we stop leading" says it all.
“You should stay in your office and not socialize with the staff!” “You shouldn’t make friends with your staff!” I couldn’t believe my ears when this was passed on to me. I guess being surprised was an emotion that I need not have in this case. They do have a rather negative culture – managers are encourage to catch employees doing things wrong so they can be disciplined rather than catching them doing things right and providing positive feedback.
Every time that I hear a story like this I think “if only they would” think about providing mentoring to new and existing managers. Managers fail because they are not provided the tools to be effective. Managers fail because they have been set up to fail as they more than likely did not have the skills to do the job. In a Gallup study that was done it was reported that only 18% of managers in the United States have the high talent required of their role.
With the professional mentoring that I do with senior managers/leaders in organizations I stress the need to develop relationships with employees. It can be as simple as walking the floor in the morning to greet everyone and perhaps to ask the odd question about how a family member did in the sporting event they were involved in the night before. This shows that you have some level of caring for the people that work with you. When some of the folks that I have spent time with take my advice and spend the time to build relationships they have found that productivity has increased as the employees feel more a part of the team. Your presence on the floor needs to be a positive experience for the employees and need not be one where they run and hide when they see you coming. It is not a pleasant feeling!
Training of new and existing managers is extremely important. They need the tools to be successful. They need the tools in order to be better able at developing the people that they work with. Studies have shown that approximately 40% of managers fail in the first 18 months and it is largely due to not receiving the training that they need to be successful. The training that is required is not purely the academic portion of the learning but it is also the practical application. I am a strong advocate for mentoring as part of any leadership development program in an organization. A trained mentor can spend an hour a week with a new or existing manager and can create a continuous learning and development environment. The mentor can work with the new or existing leader to enhance their critical thinking skills and decision making capabilities. Once again we hear that familiar statement, “if only they would” implement mentoring as part of their leadership development program.
It is tough to wrestle the leadership issues to the ground. It is a global issue – ranked #2 in the Deloitte Human Capital Trends report for 2015. Culture and engagement are tied for #1. If you look at all three of these challenges they are very closely linked together. Culture and engagement can suffer when there is a lack of leadership in the organization.
I came from an awesome leadership group this morning. They are an inspirational group of people. The topic today was on self-leadership. When I look back at the situation I described earlier I wonder what those new managers feel when they are told not to be friends or to develop any relationships with their employees. I wonder what thoughts would be racing through their minds – does this mean that my boss doesn’t think I have the capability to develop relationships. Perhaps it is the culture and if so then why was I hired as I don’t believe in this style. When we fail to lead ourselves we fail to lead others. “If they only would!”
I was considering not putting mentoring and failed leadership on the same line as the title. I recall instances in some of the organizations that I was an employee of that mentoring was actually the solution that was needed to help strengthen the leadership development program. Mentoring has become a critical solution to a lot of business challenges facing organizations globally today. One of those challenges is the lack of leadership talent which is truly a global issue.
Where do we go wrong with our leadership programs? In most instances we see training as the means to end the problem when in fact the training may well enhance the problem. I have seen it numerous times where organizations spend big bucks to train perspective leaders. When they are done the training senior management says, “You are now a leader – go forth and lead!” Within a week or two they stumble and fall and do not have the support structure to get them back on track. This is where we interject an effective mentor who can spend time with this future leader to ensure that they are learning and developing. Ken Blanchard’s quote, “when we stop learning we stop leading” is one that I reference a lot – especially when it comes to leaders and leadership development programs. That is one of the ways that an effective mentor brings value. We want to change behaviour based on practical experiences versus theoretical experiences. It’s good to have the academic background but there are times when what is being suggested in the written word may not necessarily work from a practical sense. Your effective mentor can ask the right question to help you work through all of that.
I think back to some of the new leaders that I saw rising up through the ranks. There was a lot of potential there but it was crushed very early as the leadership development program was entirely focused on the theory. There was not any support structure in place that could take the practical experiences and translate them into a learning and development experience. That is the key success factor and one that the effective mentor can provide.
We really do need to look at this from a culture perspective. The organization and its culture must support the growth of its leaders - current and future. The focus must be on providing the practical experiences and the support structure to provide a learning and development environment for leaders to grow. Utilizing the effective mentoring process we can create innovative, critical thinkers in a culture where development is supported.
I have always said that effective mentoring must be a part of any leadership development program. The research clearly supports this position. You may well have a support structure of sorts in your organization for your leadership development program but it can only be enhanced with the inclusion of effective mentoring as part of the program going forward.
You will want to take a look at your current program and the culture that is to support that program. You will want to see where you can plug in effective mentoring – there is a place for it! Ensure that your mentors are trained and now the journey that they are going on. Understand that for this to be effective you are looking at weekly contact with the leader and perhaps more often for the first little while. There is no price that you can put on this investment in your future leaders and the future of your organization.
Let’s prepare our leaders for the challenges they are currently facing and will be facing in the future. Implement effective mentoring as part of your leadership development program!
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
I wrote about the recent findings that are contained in the Deloitte report entitled Global Human Capital Trends 2015 (http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/human-capital/articles/introduction-human-capital-trends.html) and shared with you the top three challenges that organizations will face globally. They were culture and engagement, leadership and learning and development. What was frightening was that leadership had actually digressed rather than improving which demonstrated that we do not have a good handle on how to deal with it. I suggested at that time that mentoring was a means to assist in the development of leaders and that mentoring should be part of any leadership development program that you may have in place. Chances are that with leadership digressing from where it was in 2014 we more than likely do not have mentoring as part of a leadership development program. We likely have not addressed leadership development!
Fast forward to today and a recent article that was shared with me that shows that the leadership or lack thereof dilemma is not going away and it has huge impacts on productivity in the organization as well as the culture. I will provide you with the link to the article and I encourage you to listen to the video clip as it has a strong message as well (https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/blogs/balance-sheet/workers-dont-like-their-jobs-and-managers-arent-180814411.html).
How bad is it? Only 18% of current managers have the talent required for their roles according to a new survey that was done by Gallup. Gallup has found that only 30% of employees are engaged. For managers 35% are engaged, 51% are not engaged and 14% are actively disengaged. When you look at this it is no wonder that leadership in most organizations is in such a state of disarray. Disengagement can sometimes come from complacency where managers are more inclined to wait to be told what to do rather than taking the initiative and making decisions. Gallup advised that managers are responsible for 70% of the variances in employee engagement surveys. This should come as no surprise though as we have seen in the past that one of the top reasons employees leave an organization is because of the leadership or lack thereof. The price tag in the United States for bad management is $319B to $398B.
How do we move forward and address these challenge before it gets any worse. Selection of managers that have the right attributes is one. The article suggests that those attributes would include: motivating employees, overcoming obstacles, creating a culture of accountability, building trusted relationships, and making informed, unbiased decisions. Communication is foundational to make all of this work.
Effective mentoring is about building trusted relationships and communicating effectively. It is about learning to manage conversations rather than lock, loading and firing without thinking your way through what the outcomes might be or how that information will be received. As a manager it is about building those relationships so that both parties are comfortable in communicating. It is about building that safe environment where I can grow personally and professional without fear of retribution. Effective mentors are something that most organizations do not have today and going forward are something that they cannot be without. Any manager/leader should be afforded the opportunity to take some form of mentor training in order to develop the skills that we have just talked about. If we don’t take this step where will we be in a year from now? Can we afford not to?
I was truly honored to have the opportunity to participate in LEAD 2015 (http://www.leadershipexcellenceanddevelopment.com/) and to hear President Bill Clinton speak as well as leadership thought leader Ken Blanchard. Our program was ranked 3rd in the International Partners and Providers category which is a humbling experience. It is those that we serve that have made this possible. President Clinton was asked to describe all that he had talked about and what leadership was about in one word. That one word was “service”. When we look at mentoring no matter the capacity that we are looking at it is truly all about “service”. Ken Blanchard spoke on “servant leadership” which followed on the heels of President Clinton’s presentation. A perfect segue if there ever was one.
Some interesting observations from President Clinton’s presentation. Good leaders envision, explain, include and execute. That is what sets them apart from the rest. Taking the time to explain and I would suggest engage your employees’ shows respect. I hear far too many stories of where managers, supervisors and want to be leaders fail to engage their employees in any decision making process as that would their weakness as a leader. After all they have all the answers and they obviously know better as they are the manager/supervisor.
You will recall my reference to the Deloitte report (http://dupress.com/periodical/trends/human-capital-trends-2015/) on Human Capital Trends for 2015. Leadership was ranked #2 narrowly missing the number one ranking by culture and engagement. What is disappointing is that there was no improvement in the leadership space, in fact we digressed from 2014. A lot of what President Clinton and Ken Blanchard talked about was the need for leadership to move forward as without it we are like a ship in water without a rudder and no sense of direction. All of the global changes could be diminished or even go away with strong leadership.
Strong leadership can be achieved if we support it through the implementation of mentoring as part of a leadership development program. Effective mentors will assist potential and existing leaders in navigating through these challenges that we are currently facing and will face in the future. Effective mentoring is not about telling leaders how to solve these problems/challenges but asking the right questions to guide them to the answers. Effective mentoring can create a learning and development environment for your organization and that creates a space where strong leaders will germinate and grow.
The biggest challenge in most organizations is to be willing to seek help to address the leadership problems before they impact the bottom line any further. Like most things that we deal with admitting that there is a problem is the first step – envisioning that there is a problem. The second step is to explain why there is a problem and what we are going to do. The third is to engage your people as part of the solution. Together there is nothing you cannot achieve. Finally, you actually need to do something or execute on what needs to take place to resolve the issue.
Effective mentoring is part of the solution to the leadership challenge. You do need to execute on this solution – “can you afford not to?”
Deloitte recently released its Global Human Capital Trends for 2015 and with it are some interesting observations. The top three challenges facing organizations in 2015 are: 1) culture and engagement, 2) leadership and 3) learning and development. Of the companies that were surveyed as part of this study only 6% of them are ready to address leadership issues, 10% are comfortable with their succession plans and only 7% have strong programs to build millennial leaders. The study also found that “the capability gap for building great leaders has widened in every region of the world.” (http://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/human-capital/articles/introduction-human-capital-trends.html)
I want to take a few moments to touch on each of these areas and to show how effective mentoring can be part of the solution to address these challenges. I have for a while now talked about the importance of having the right culture in place in order to attract and retain quality employees. I have talked about how the right culture can help in minimizing the disengagement in your organization’s work place. The Deloitte study identified that “Every program in HR must address issues of culture and engagement: how we lead, how we manage, how we develop, and how we inspire people. Without strong engagement and a positive, meaningful work environment, people will disengage and look elsewhere for work.” (http://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/human-capital/articles/introduction-human-capital-trends.html)
Implementation of a mentoring program or better yet a mentoring culture can assist in creating a vibrant work place that is focused on learning and development. It will assist in diminishing the disengagement in the work place and more importantly will create an environment of engagement, empowerment and accountability. Your existing culture needs to be mentor ready for this to take place and be successful.
Whatever we have been doing or not doing is not working as the capability gap for building great leaders has widened. We need a concentrated effort at addressing this challenge as we do need to prepare for the future and we need to prepare our future leaders. Setting people up to fail can only end up in potential leaders becoming disengaged and complacent. What we need to have in place as a supporting element to leadership development programs is a mentoring program/culture. What I have seen is that we spend a lot of money on formal training of future leaders and then fail to provide any support after the training. Imagine the growth that we would see with a weekly meeting with a mentor and a potential leader where they discuss what went well, what didn’t go well and what we are going to do differently. I do recommend the weekly discussions so that we don’t get into the habit of internalizing the things that didn’t go well and it provides structure. I am mentoring a number of leaders now and that is the approach that we have taken and it has been working well.
The creation of a learning and development environment is such a huge attraction to potential employees. You can market this and build it into your recruiting and retention program. It works well in the fight against disengagement in the work place. It creates a culture that is focused on growth and one of positive energy. A cornerstone of a learning and development environment is the implementation a mentor program/culture. It is a combination of informal and formal mentoring. It can also include an element of coaching. An organization that leverages the power of coaching and mentoring will be miles ahead in addressing challenges that we have talked about in this article.
I prefer to look at the report from Deloitte as one that is opportunity rich! If we develop a plan, implement it and nurture it the opportunities will turn into success stories enabled through the “power of mentoring.”
We look under the covers of an organization to determine are they mentor ready or not. We get asked if that is an essential thing that must be done and typically the answer would be “Yes!” One of the reasons that mentoring struggles and sometimes fails in an organization is that the current culture will not support mentoring. What ends up taking place then is that mentoring loses its credibility in the organization and people do not wish to participate in anything mentor related. Performing that culture assessment to determine mentor readiness is a good thing. It is time well spent.
One of the areas that is looked at is the organization’s leadership development program. This would also be categorized as being part of the succession planning/succession development process. Interestingly enough a lot of organizations do some form of succession planning but very few do anything to develop the successors. We scramble at the last moment and then finally push them into the deep end of the pool and encourage them to swim. There is nothing like setting someone up for failure to enhance an organizational culture.
We do need to do something to develop current and future leaders. We have a global leadership talent shortage and yet we seem to wander aimlessly along settling into a world of complacency. We hope that someone will take care of this challenge but I can assure you such is not the case. I have seen and have been involved in situations where we have leveraged the power of mentoring to assist in the development of current leaders and future leaders. We did that culture assessment and we did implement mentoring at various levels in the organization and we did see change taking place. Change for the betterment of all concerned.
Mentoring is all about relationships – trusted relationships. Mentoring is all about effective communication. Are you listening and hearing what is being said. Are you preparing yourself for those conversations by visualizing them taking place prior to them happening so that you have some sense of what your responses may be? Your responses will be framed in the context of questions in order to help develop the critical thinking skills so badly needed in today’s work force. Mentoring is about being humble and realizing that the relationship that you are in is a two way reciprocal relationship where we both are going to learn and develop personally and professionally. We are also going to make mistakes and that is okay – that is how we learn and we will learn together. Mentoring is about inspiring each other to be the best that we can be.
When you take a look at the characteristics of a good leader you will find that they are very similar to the ones that I have listed about. The list is not all inclusive by any stretch but I wanted to give you a sense of why mentoring is an important part of any leadership development program that you may have. Is it okay to spend a large sum of money to train someone on how to become a leader if we don’t provide them the support after the formal training? I have worked with a number of new leaders that were crying for help, for someone to guide them as they begin their journey as a leader. Someone to ask the question at the end of the day – “is there a way that we could have done that differently?” “What would happen if we were to have done this, or perhaps this?” I have heard stories from employees about the unskilled managers, supervisors and leaders that they have in their organization. Their organization is now a culture riddled with negativity. Managers, supervisors and leaders have created a culture where catching someone doing something wrong so they can discipline is the norm. Employees are never encouraged to do well, they are never acknowledged when they do something well. The good employees will leave an organization like this because they can! High turnover rates usually are indicative of low productivity.
Take the time to invest in your people. Take the time to invest in your current and future leaders. It is time and money well spent. Take the time to embrace the power of mentoring and create that positive culture and a learning and development environment.
There is a lot of research material out there and a lot of people with differing viewpoints on the whole leadership landscape. The one thing that is consistent however is the fact that we are in the midst of a leadership talent shortage. When I think back over my career, I do honestly believe that we were in the beginning of that leadership talent shortage even back then. I am probably dating myself but I saw signs of that business challenge 30 years ago. Now it may not have progressed to the stage that it is in now but it was definitely evident then. What I also saw was that there were bosses and managers that were surviving but the presence of leaders and even more so – great leaders was severely lacking. We haven’t managed this very well as it has continued to grow as a problem. We now have organizations struggling to hang on to the high performers in their organization. It is those high performers that could become great leaders and lead the organization into the future. We have countries/nations that are scrambling to develop their youth to lead their country/nation out of the environment that they are currently in. Global leadership is lacking and we need to move forward with developing those skills.
What sets a great leader apart from the rest? From what I have seen it is a number of things but a few that really stand out for me are; effective communicator, trusted relationship builder, humble, always willing to grow and a serving leader – putting others before yourself. They are successful because they help others be successful. They have a deep understanding of who they are, what or who they want to be and a sense of spirituality that they are comfortable with. They are the sort of person that does the self-assessment after a meeting looking at it from the perspective of what went well, what could we have done differently and how can we continue to grow. They create a learning and development environment for themselves and then share that environment with others. Remember that “anytime you influence the thinking, beliefs, or development of another person, you are engaging in leadership.”
In the research that I have been doing recently I have noted that mentoring is viewed as a key component to the success of any leader. It does have a place in any leadership development program but is typically not leveraged to the extent that it needs to be. It has been suggested that new leaders/managers be mentored for the first 6 months in their new role. I am going to suggest that the path to a great leader is a journey one takes with a mentor even beyond the 6 month time frame. Great leaders are those that are constantly learning. I am working with some folks now in leadership roles that our mentoring relationship has surpassed the 5 year time frame and we both continue to grow because of that relationship. With that growth so grows the organization.
Remember that there is no perfect organization. There is always room for improvement. Helping that organization evolve and continue to grow just like its leaders is a role that mentoring can provide value. Mentoring can and does make a difference in people and in organizations. If you want to enhance your leadership capabilities embrace the power of mentoring. Continue to grow as a leader as we truly do need you to lead us into the future!