Principles of Intentional Mentoring 

4 Things That Must Be Considered

There are some genuine considerations for the would-be protégé. In fact, there are four that I would have you consider today.

We need to identify a leader that is worthy of following.

It is an indictment of our culture, and maybe even our own judgment sometimes, that we would need to be reminded of this consideration. Not every leader is worthy of following. We must understand that consideration from both the leader’s and from the follower’s perspective. As a follower, I must find a leader that is worthy to follow and whose successes are not compromised by their ethics or methods. As a leader, I must always be diligent to be “worthy” to be followed.

We must learn how they lead.

Is there some “secret sauce?” Usually, there is not. It is just a lot of hard work and some careful application of emotional intelligence concepts. But, as a protégé, they will be asking: “What is the secret to your success as a leader?” So, as a leader, ask yourself the following questions: What makes you worthy to be followed? And what are you doing specifically that makes you “successful” as a leader?

What makes one leader successful will not always work in another place and setting. That is why I am stressing that it is important to learn how they lead. It is the “how” that will be filled with those traits and characteristics that will be the earmarks of an Emotionally Agile Leader.

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Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

Another perspective

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

We’re all familiar with the phrase, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”. During my adult life, I’ve found myself doing all three at one time or another. By my very nature, I tend to want to lead. Sometimes that is truly the case because I have the passion and feel I also have the experience, knowledge, or skill to move things forward in a positive direction. It may also be because I see a void of leadership that I feel an obligation to fill. Other times, truth be told, it’s probably more of a self-centered desire for the adrenaline rush that comes from being in the middle of the action.

Follow

The “follow” part often does not come as easily for me. Call it a type-A personality or a distrust of others’ intentions, I can find it hard to be inspired to get behind another’s efforts. Add to that a series of uninspiring leaders in my past along with a failure on my part to seek out a successful mentor that I could utilize not only to learn but also to develop trust. I’ve also spent a significant portion of my professional career working in a zero sum environment where acknowledging another’s leadership and helping to move their agenda forward often comes back to be viewed as your own lack of vision or initiative. There have, however, been a few bright spots where I have been able to trust another’s interests and motives and take a subordinate part on a team just to be around the leader and to be part of something greater than myself.

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Building Leaders: A Better Model

If creating more leaders is the main goal, why do we spend so much time creating followers?

building-leaders_

Outside of the moral absolutes that we would all commonly accept, there really aren’t a wholly agreed upon set of absolutes for the many pursuits of our lives. And, although I would reject moral relativism, I do accept a certain continuum when it comes to leadership and leadership development.

What does that mean?

That means that there is an acceptable continuum of leadership skills, goals, and objectives. However, my experiences over the last two Sunday afternoons have reinforced within me the objective of creating more leaders and not just more followers. So, toward that end, let’s look at that a little more, shall we?

The kind of leadership that I want to focus on is the kind of leadership that differentiates itself from just good leadership. The differentiator that separates good leaders from great leaders is one that creates other leaders.

While good leaders excel at motivating their followers to do what they are asked, great leaders motivate followers to develop and become leaders themselves. Good leaders only lead followers. Great leaders lead, create, and develop other leaders.

So, if you want to build an organization that endures, you must realize that having good leaders is not enough. You must build an entire culture of leadership throughout your organization that cultivates an environment where great leaders are empowered to create leaders to go out and replicate and even improve upon the foundation laid for them.

What is a Culture of Leadership?

What does it mean to have a leadership culture in your organization? In an organization that has embraced a culture of leadership, all individuals (and not just those that have the words “VP” or “Chief” on their business cards) are expected to think like and to act like leaders. But, what does a leader “think” like and “act” like?

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Leadership Focus: A Reminder

What sitting in a recent training session reminded me about my leadership focus.

leadership-focus

I have said many times, and I repeat again right now. You never know from where your inspiration for writing will come. For me, over the last two Sunday afternoons, it has come from some Discipleship Training that was hosted by a church near where I live.

The training was for them and for their people. But I got a chance to sit in and observe. I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to the topic. So, I was not expecting to really “learn” anything. Boy, was I wrong!

What did I learn? And how was I wrong?

Truthfully, I didn’t really learn anything radically new or different. Instead, I was able to view the topic of leadership development in much the same way that the presenter was able to view the topic of discipleship. 

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Why Would Anyone Want YOU To Lead Them?

A Question of Leadership in Terms of "Followship"

why-would-anyone-want-you-to-lead-them

Halloween has just ended and the airwaves are full of Christmas music. Are we just going to bypass Thanksgiving altogether? I certainly hope not. Thanksgiving is a time of reflection for me. It reminds me that the year is nearly over.

At this time of year, many leaders and leadership teams are taking their annual step back to do a deep-dive assessment of their organization’s progress against the goals and objectives of their strategic plans that they established in the early days of 2016. (What? You don’t do that at your organization? Have you ever considered that maybe that is part of what is holding the organization back?)

Take A Look on the Inside

As part of your end-of-year strategic progress review, consider including another area of assessment — one that will require a different kind of evaluation and one that will be much more introspective in nature. Why not take some time to also consider how you personally are progressing as a leader? After all, an organization’s strategic performance is, in large part, a direct reflection of the effectiveness of the person at the top.

If you want to silence a room of pastors, executives or any group of leaders try this small trick. Ask them, “Why would anyone want you to lead them?”

Without fail, the response will most likely be a sudden, stunned hush. All you will hear are knees knocking and crickets chirping.

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Leadership Comes From Experience

NOT from Exposure!

leadership-comes-from-experience

As a leader, I am always seeking experiences that will make me a better leader. As a “follower”, I crave experienced and proven leaders. What we need is something that prepares men and women to actually lead and not just to think about or read about leadership.

Young developing leaders need opportunities to actively and personally explore and/or experience what they should have already learned in an academic setting or observed in a practical setting. These opportunities should be “performance practicums” and represent a safe environment for young leaders to grow and gain the practical experience that we as followers desperately want them to have. How else do we develop and grow the best young leaders in our organizations?

A Perspective on Experience

Frequent readers of this blog will know how much I love a great quote. And, it is said that John F. Kennedy produced a notable one as he was battling perceptions that he had a marked deficit of leadership in his 1960 presidential campaign. He is quoted as saying:

“Experience is like tail lights on a boat which illuminate where we have been when we should be focusing on where we should be going”.

That is a great quote, isn’t it? And it is highly inspirational. Especially to the young and to the up and coming.

Another Perspective on Experience

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How Important Are YOUR Results?

What should we be doing as followers?

How Important are YOUR Results?

It is easy to follow a “winner.” And it is easy to follow when everything is chugging along nicely and the organization is experiencing success, growth, profitability, everyone feels valued and appreciated by their leader.

So, what do we do when our leader isn’t leading us in a positive direction of if there are not positive and measurable results? That is a very different situation, isn’t it?

Who is at fault?

That is probably the first thing that jumps to most of our minds. (OK, maybe that is only in my mind.) And I suppose there is a time and there is a place for that kind of an assessment. But, what if we are in a crisis mode? Then that is not the time to be assigning blame. That is the time to rally around the leader, get things fixed, and get the ship turned around.

What is MY responsibility at this point?

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Build Another Follower in 2016

Step 4 for 2016

Resolution #4

Who knows if this pithy little saying is really attributable to any one person. The first time I came across it was many years ago and it was attributed as “an ancient Chinese proverb.” Maybe it is ancient, maybe it is not. But it is certainly true. And here it is:

“A man that thinks he leads, yet has no followers, is really only taking a walk.”

How many are there who think they are leaders when they are really just out for a walk?

Resolve This Year to Build Another Follower 

This is one of the true marks of your leadership abilities. Do you have followers? If you do, resolve this year to increase your number of followers. Let’s not build our number of followers for the sake of a big number. It is infinitely more important to build quality followers who are passionate about where you are leading. But it is unavoidable to consider the impact that we are having and the number of followers is one of the metrics that we would want to use to gauge our effectiveness and our reach.

Why do I need followers in the first place? 

Perhaps that is the wrong question. Perhaps the question is what do I do with the followers that we already have? I am not sure that a great leader goes out to amass followers. At least not a leader that I want to follow. I think the truly great leaders attract followers organically. We are drawn to these kinds of leaders through their charisma or their message. Following this line of thought reminds me of another saying that I find apropos. The one who would aspire to be the President of the United States is probably not worthy of the office. I know that is an overly simplistic statement. But, given the election cycle in which we find ourselves, the parallel is painfully obvious.

What should I do?

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Be a Better Follower in 2016

Step Two for 2016

Resolution #2

Well, here is part 2 of this quick 4 part series on resolutions that every leader should make as they start the new year. On Monday, I dealt with the importance of being a better leader. And I included some specific resources that will help you along he way.

Now it is time to consider the next step in the 4 part process.

Resolve This Year To Be A Better Follower 

This one is not so obvious. And this one is one that is also considered to be a sign of weakness by some leaders. Those leaders are often more about power and control and less about true leadership. And to them, anything that resembles being a follower makes them feel somehow weaker as a leader. Sadly, they are seriously mistaken.

Every great leader is not a great leader alone. Every great leader has someone that they are following. They look up to someone, they admire someone, they are imitating someone, or they are in some form of mentoring relationship with someone else. These leaders recognize the importance of having someone with experience and in whom they have great faith speak truth into their lives and hold them accountable for their actions that they take. Never allow yourself to begin to think that you are beyond the need to be a follower.

So, resolve this year to become a better follower. This sends a very strong signal to our followers regarding how important being a follower is to our own ability to lead, and by association, how important it is to their ability to lead.

Being a follower is often misunderstood. But being a follower is a noble and necessary aspect of our social and family culture. The truth is that we are all followers in some form or fashion. In fact, not everyone is a leader. But everyone is a follower of someone or something. Even it is only following your own destructive desires.

So, how do we become better followers in 2016?

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Why Would Anyone Want To Be Led By You? Or Me?

 

Why Be Led By You - 1The year is nearly over. Many leaders and leadership teams are taking their annual step back to do a deep-dive assessment of their organization’s progress against the goals and objectives of their strategic plans. (What? You don’t do that at your organization?  Maybe that is part of what is holding the organization back.)

As part of your end-of-year strategic progress review, consider including another area of assessment — one that will require a different kind of evaluation and be much more introspective in nature. Why not take some time to also consider how you personally are progressing as a leader? After all, an organization’s strategic performance is, in large part, a direct reflection of the effectiveness of the person at the top.

If you want to silence a room of pastors, executives, or any group of leaders try this small trick. Ask them, “Why would anyone want to be led by you?”

Without fail the response will most likely be a sudden, stunned hush. All you will hear are knees knocking and crickets chirping.

Click here to read the rest of the article »