Unlock Relationships that Transform Leadership
I knew too much when I was younger. Now that I’m older, I have the same problem. But, the thing that most expands leadership is the belief that we don’t know.
Those who think they know are worse off than those who know they don’t.
Everyone who’s afraid to look dumb, remains dumb.
We learn and grow in community.
Mentors grow us most.
But, know-it-all’s outgrow community.
Mentor-ready is ready to:
- Not-know with an open mind.
- Believe people, more than circumstances, change us.
- Have confidence, even though you don’t have all the answers.
- Shift strategies.
- Expand options.
- Nurture curiosity.
- Stop pretending you know when you don’t.
- Give time for reflection. Without a mentor you keep circling the same thoughts.
- Explore inconsistencies.
- Dig into priorities.
- Press for clarity.
- Instill confidence.
- Honor growth.
4 marks of lousy mentors:
- Fix rather than explore.
- Advise before understanding desired outcomes.
- Do all the talking.
- Act like they know.
7 keys to successful mentoring:
- Grow rather than fix.
- Control the need to tell.
- Aid self-exploration and discovery.
- Help define current situations, desired wins, and the next steps.
- Establish accountability.
- Care deeply and expect a lot.
- Avoid personal agendas.
- You haven’t outgrown being mentored. Humble yourself. Arrogance blocks growth.
- Transparency opens the door to mentoring. Share your dreams, fears, and frustrations.
- Have many mentors. Learn from everyone.
- Age doesn’t matter. Young people often teach me more than older.
- Short-term is fine.
- Mentoring is a two way street. The act of teaching is learning.
- Evaluate and fine-tune interactions. What types of interactions work best for you?
“Manager as Mentor,” by Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith.
Governor Mike Leavitt on finding a mentor (1:19).
I’m gathering my thoughts on mentoring because I’ve been invited to give the keynote at a mentoring conference.
Wow once again this post is so timely. Thanks. I am grateful God put you where he did. 🙂
Thanks Nancy. It’s a joy to serve.
Being a good listener aids in mentoring along with patience,understanding and then motivating.
Thanks Sharon. Isn’t it a joy to find someone who really listens?
Good stuff Dan!!
First goal in unlocking relationships is Know Thyself. Think that is pretty easy to understand. If you do not relate well with yourself how can you relate well with others? Answer, you can’t Stop looking out, start by looking in!!!!!
In AA we call mentoring sponsoring.
Bottom line it is useful to me because left to my own devices I am in deep do-do!! Anyone coulda guessed that?? Hehe
Nothing better than wise and loving EXPERIENCED counsel!
I do recommend staying clear of advice giving idiots.
Sounds like this…..if I was u I would be listening to me!!!! Get it????
I stick to sharing my experience, strength and hope, that is all I truly KNOW anyway. Might help others too.
Thanks Scott. I also find that a good mentor helps me look in. And, I’m with you. People who are eager to give advice all the time are a pain.
I totally agree with you about the importance of having some level of self awareness and clarity before embarking on the journey of looking for mentors. By being clear in what stage of life we are in, what exactly we need and how we like our mentors to help us, it’s easier to identify who are the right mentors and able to engage them in a way that is mutually beneficial for both parties.
yes, yes….learning is teaching, leading is learning, selling is learning…all is well if we keep learning…open and fertile
Thanks Louise. One of the things I love about mentoring is being asked about things I don’t know about. It motivates me to explore and learn.
As a mentor, I love saying, “I never thought of it that way.” It sends conversations in new directions and teaches people how to explore without feeling dumb.
I have many informal mentors in fact just about everybody I encounter is a mentor – not that I am always aware of it at the time.
I found it useful to explore the meaning of the original Mentor from the Odyssey myth/story. He was a stand in or substitute father at home who cares for the house and teaches Telemachus.
According to THomas More – Care of the Soul – true mentors further the deep process of fatherhood by understanding their limited role and not usurping the role for themselves.
I think by fatherhood he means our own true deep authority and knowing.
I think a mentor is a companion on the journey helping us to discover our own wisdom and in the process the mentor learns also.
I’ll stop there!!
Why stop that was awesome!!!!
Thanks Clara. Your comment made my heart ache and nearly made me weep.
My friend Anthony A. Malizia, Jr., MD, an outstanding Urologist gave me this wise advice. “The greatest enemy of learning is knowing.”
My life experience has confirmed that more times than I could number.
Two people are doomed to failure, the “know-it-all’ and the “I need more information.” The risk of the ‘know-it-all” is easily recognized, but the person who needs more information is often considered to be wise when in reality they are afraid to act.
We all need to recognize that no matter how much or what we know, we don’t know it all. Since we can never know it all, we must be prepared to act with the best partial information available within a reasonable period of time. A person paralyzed by the fear of not knowing all, is doomed to failure. We must learn to trust our judgement and act!
Thanks Jimmy. Wow! Your comment took me in new directions and challenged me not to over-rely on a mentor. We have to pull the trigger even though we have incomplete information. It’s an honor that you joined in today.
Excellent input regarding the need to act with imperfect information. There is a fine line between being brash (not waiting enough to take the time to gather information) and taking too long to make decisions.
Harvard Business Review and others have written tomes about this. In my current role leading the development of new technology, it is a daily preoccupation. Wait too long, and it will cost time and money. Take the wrong path by going too fast, and the mistake will cost even more.
The art of making satisficing decisions requires humility, research, asking questions to get input, then decisiveness in making decisions early without committing too many resources before testing whether the decisions are good – and keeping options open to go in another direction should the first decision not be the right one.
The science of the process is summed up in the discipline of systems engineering, but science is not enough. Trust and humility are a big part of this. The leader must have gained the trust of his people enough for them to share ideas, no matter how far-fetched, have the humility to adopt a decision that he may not have thought of, and the trust of his people to lead them down a path, even though some of them may be uncomfortable with it.
Thanks Marc. I really love a little nugget tucked away in your comment. “Have the humility to adopt a decision that he may not have thought of…” KaPow
Marc, I don’t know you, but I am certain I would like working with you!
Not many people want to walk the path of trust. It is true that we will encounter pot-holes as we travel, but the binding of relationships along that path are worth the risk.
Even fewer people are interested in humility, not to mention submissiveness! For trust to create the binding support we all seek, the companion must be humility. Without humility, there will not be trust, and no support. You understand the balance of confident humility.
If you work the way you write, your co-workers are very fortunate!
I think every leader should have mentors and proteges. Good luck with your keynote Dan!
Best to you, too, Diana.
I think that in its purest form mentorship is an act of love. I have been very fortunate to have stumbled upon some amazing mentors along my travels- what stands about the power of these relationships is that 1. They were people I respect and admire, 2. They saw me for who I am- strengths and challenges- and despite the challenges seemed to see “something” special, that I myself became motivated to reach toward. I think its about feeling seen and deeply cared about my someone you respect and admire ( loved really), being seen not in an idealized way- but in an authentic way that recognizes challenges, but sees potential and helps to manage the challenges so as to most effectively and constructively realize potential. It is a real gift. It is humbling and it is enriching to have a mentor, and similarly to have the opportunity to serve as a mentor for someone else.
Good luck with your key note- I am sure it will be great!
Thanks Lori. People who see something in us that we don’t even see in ourselves, have great power to make us better. What a great thing to add, here.
Couldn’t agree more. This is a unique skill of a strong mentor, it is fulfilling to be on both sides of that relationship!
We always think we know it all. Then, reality has a harsh way of bringing us down
Rajiv, this applies to this past week in my life more than any thing else I have read or heard before.
Thanks Rajiv. I think the way I think because it’s the right way to think. 🙂
Climbing off that high horse of knowing isn’t so easy. The pressure “to-know” is real and to be learning openingly takes confidence. The reward is in new ways of being. I love the questions that help me see through my stories to offer new ways of thinking.
There is a reason fiar everything and few or nothing happens by coincidence. I believe due to experiences I have lived in my 61 years in this beautiful world of ours. Dear Don, I found you on Twitter and that brought me here this Monday morning for a reason. This week that ended yesterday was one of the most challenging and saddest I have lived so far, and today, reading here your words and those of your friends, I have learned so much. One of the things will be to give less advice, I am a pain. 🙂
Test this thought… My definition of a mentor has changed over the years. I have had many wonderful advisors that have lead me to become more proficient in my profession and/or knowledgable in different facets of my life. To these friends I am very grateful.
I have also had several MENTORS who have had a profound impact on my life, transforming it in ways that go beyond mere knowledge.
Trying to identify the difference in each of their scopes of influence, it seems that I can identify only one difference. It is centered in the heart of the advisor or mentor. All of these helpers have sincerely wanted me to learn and grow, but the mentors in my life have passionately wanted me to outgrow them. To many, this is just too threatening. Either professionally, pride of wanting to maintain the teacher/student relationship, or other selfish motivations, makes this a deeper decision than just wanting to help out someone.
This concept seems to ring true in those whom I have had the honor to help. Becoming their champion is the starting point; having them master my art is where joy is found.
I love your distinction between advisor and mentor!
Randy, your distinction is spot on. Mentors unlock your full potential and there is none of their ego in that equation. Your full potential could be 10x theirs, and that they unlocked it is where their pride & satisfaction comes from, not from keeping themselves above you. I love that my protegés can now share knowledge with me that they’ve gained through their growth. The feedback loop that is created is a mark of mentorship rarely seen in advisement alone.
Mentoring is a wonderful leadership privilege, and also a massive responsibility, one that should not be taken lightly. Mentors are like teachers: They touch the future. We can’t tell where their influence stops—most often good, sometimes not-so-good. Thus, regarding mentoring and mentors, that which “matters most” must not be at the mercy of those who “mind the least.”
It is certain some men and women are called to the profession of leadership…perhaps statesmanship—a term not commonly used to describe the duties of today’s leader. Are leaders born with a calling, shaped by what they do and how they do it? So apt are they to their work, and it to them, they almost persuade us to hold opinion with Pythagoras to believe in some previous existence they were professionals indeed. Or, maybe their ability may be the result of inheritance–even though we know next to nothing about inheritance. Neither is imaginable by what physical processes the babe unborn is predisposed for one profession or another. Still, there are men and women—not in great number–created for the service of giving and directing and mentoring… persons called to be their profession’s professionals. Call them mentors or shapers of thought — yet, they touch the future.
What can be expected of mentors, or what can mentors expect of themselves? We expect our staff members to matter and mind. Should we not expect the same from our mentors? Perhaps mentors can establish for themselves: 1) I will mentor in a gradual and sensitive way; 2) I will teach with the goal in mind; 3) I will critique with gentleness; 4) I will not speak in selfishness; 5) I will take great care not to harm anyone.
If we establish these five things, our protégé’s will be well served and effective. And we—as mentors—will be fulfilled…professionally and personally!
Wonderfully said, Rick. With great power comes great responsibility, it is true, and mentors must take care to guide mindfully.
I especially like your tip on transparency. I believe there’s great value in being willing to appear vulnerable in front of our mentors. Since we are already asking for their help, we shouldn’t be concerned about being judged and try to portray a strong front. By being really authentic in sharing our fears and aspirations, we can build a healthy mentoring relationship based on trust and honesty.