Be A Mentor

Are you a mentor to other leaders?

be-a-mentor

In a recent article, I tackled the need for leaders to be “teachable.” And we certainly must be. But leaders must also be teaching — or, in my words, leaders must be a mentor.

Your followers today are the future leaders of tomorrow. As leaders, we have an obligation to those who will come behind us, or in other words, our future to train and mentor tomorrow’s leaders today. The pace of change today is so swift that we must mentor and coach our young leaders through these times. “Trial by fire” may just not be an option in our organizations.

How do we develop and keep the best young leaders? 

The answer is to use a formal or even an informal mentoring program. By using an effective mentoring program, you and I can help develop today’s leadership talent and potential into tomorrow’s proven and tested leaders. Organizations that leverage the leadership and experience of senior staff can develop, maintain, and retain the talent that they may already have in-house. 

What are some things to consider as a leadership mentor?

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Be Generous

Three Things That Generous Leaders Share

Be Generous

Leaders that folks want to follow are generous by nature. That doesn’t mean they give you money. That means that they have a giving spirit or a generous heart.

Generosity is a word with a historical meaning that is lost today. It once referred to one’s nobility of birth and the obligation toward those of lesser means and lower standing. There was a cultural expectation that leaders (nobility) would behave in certain ways that would demonstrate their worthiness.

But before we can identify the behaviors of a generous leader, we need to identify the motivations of a generous leader. Generous leaders are motivated by the success (whatever that looks like) of those around them. Generous leaders lead the way that they do because they place a high value on the overall success of those who follow them.  On the other hand, leaders who are motivated by their own success tend to measure their achievements in terms of their compensation package, the power in their position, the status as compared to those in their peer group, and whatever recognition they can garner.

Generous leaders hold themselves to different standards. Generous leaders value their empowerment of others, their service to their organization, and their relationships with their followers.

Generous leaders give in ways that are not always measured in terms of dollars.  They are generous on many levels. They usually are generous with their money.  They are often the benefactors of many charitable or ministry organizations.  And they are often the ones behind the anonymous gifts that their followers find at just the right time. But they are also generous with their time as well as their talents.

What does a generous leader look like?

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How to Choose a Coach? 

Don't pick someone you already know!

How to Chose a Coach

By now you may be beginning to see the value of having a leadership coach who will work with you and guide you along the journey of life. But, how do you choose a coach? What are the criteria that you should consider?

Unfortunately, selecting the right leadership coach is often a decision that is made based on a flawed set of criteria.

Let me just say quickly, in this article, I am going to be dealing with non-technical criteria. Certifications, degrees, and experiences are all technical criteria when it comes to what may make a good coach. I want to focus today on less technical selection criteria.

So, what is the selection criteria?

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Older and Wiser

I am one of these. Am I the other also?

Older & Wiser

I remember when my father-in-law was still alive. His name was John. But he was known to us as “Grandaddy”. He was a great man. He was a patient man. He was a successful man. And he was a smart man. No. Better yet, he was a wise man.

Only recently have I had the opportunity to live anywhere close to where my own actual father lives. And yet, we have lived close to my father-in- law for many years, so I have often gone to my father-in-law with questions that a young husband or a young father would normally take to his own father. John was older. John was wiser. — I think those two things just might go hand-in-hand.

And then this happened. I noticed several years ago that some younger men were starting to come to me for advice from time to time. Some of them just wanted to bounce their ideas off of someone. It sort of just began happening over time. I didn’t seek it out. It just started occurring. That was a bit of a troubling realization!
Then it hit me. They were looking to ME for advice. They were looking to ME for wisdom. How did that happen? I don’t feel qualified. And I don’t feel worthy. Am I getting old? Am I getting wiser?

Then, I had a thought. I wonder how Grandaddy must have felt when I used to go to him for advice?

What is the Leadership Lesson from this reminiscing?

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Free Advice

Free Advice - Blog

I have been speaking to a lot of “young” (really they are just new bloggers) lately. Each of them is addressing the gap that exists between the amount of good, practical leadership principles and the availability of the same. There is no shortage of leadership advice to be had on the internet these days. But, each of these new bloggers that I am speaking with are addressing a vital niche market.

If you have some experience or passion for leadership, then start a blog. There is room for more.  There is room for you to join us.

Therefore, I am offering up a bit of a brain dump that I wished someone had provided to me when I started my first blog in 2006. I have learned by trial and error over these last 9 years.

Many start out with one of the hosted blogging platforms such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com. I began with Blogger and used it for almost 6 years. And it served me well. But, I have chosen to move on and I now have a very different “web presence” in 2015 than I did in 2006.

Here are some thoughts for any new blogger to consider:

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Play Your Loser Card

Play Your Loser Card First - No Graphics

It would be a mistake to assume that you will only get great leadership insights from folks who are much older than you. Sometimes they come from your peers. And sometimes they come from a peer who is as young as you are at the time.

Such has been the case in my life. I have been blessed to have great influences in my life. This is especially true in my early adult years. Like most, those years coincided with my college career. It was there that I met Daren. And it was there that Daren taught me a great leadership lesson.

“Play your loser card.”

Here is the context of that leadership lesson.

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The Hike to One Tree Hill

Hike to One Tree Hill

Just having a compass doesn’t really make you a leader.

This realization came to me while watching my oldest grandson on a hike yesterday. We were visiting the beautiful Shelburne Farm on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, VT. At one point in our visit to the farm, we decided to take a hike up a trail to One Tree Hill and look out onto Lake Champlain.

My wife, the greatest Mimi in the universe, had purchased a little something for each of the grandchildren to take on our hike. She had purchased a little magnifying glass for our granddaughter because she loves to stop and explore along the way. And she had purchased a compass for our grandson because he likes to feel like he is in charge and is a leader. Both were ecstatic to receive these gifts. Both were well suited to their temperaments and personalities.

My grandson was convinced that the compass gave him the right to be the leader. He proudly held the compass out in front of himself and proclaimed that we were to move forward in the direction he pointed. Unfortunately, the trailhead was in the opposite direction.

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Five Fundamentals for Young Leaders

5 Fundamentals for Young Leaders

It is graduation season. In fact, I attended a graduation celebration today for some very impressive young women who are graduating from high school.  And it is Summer Intern season where I work. So, youth and optimism are in the air.

I thought I might take this opportunity to offer up some advice for those making the transition from high school to college, college to career, and ultimately, child to adult.

As a young professional just starting out, you may think you can’t lead because of your youth or short tenure within your new company. I am going to invite you to reconsider that thought.

In fact, youth and short tenure can be assets. Young professionals may not bring years of experience to a company, but they bring optimism, enthusiasm, energy, exuberance, a set of new ideas, and experience with new technologies that others in the company may not have. They also bring a fresh perspective — a new look at old problems.

As a young professional, you can still be a leader even though you may not have yet achieved a position of power. In fact, if you exercise your leadership skills as a young professional, your road to a more desirable position can be much shorter.

Consider if you will these five fundamental things you can do to cultivate and exercise your leadership skills without having positional power:

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Nurturing Young Leaders

Nurse Tree

Welcome to the final Leadership Lesson from the Saguaro Cactus. I never expected this level of inspiration from a desert plant.

One of the things that I noticed about the young Saguaro cacti is that they sprout and grow in the shadow of another desert plant. They do not sprout and grow in the shadow of another Saguaro cactus.

I found that fascinating.

They are found in the shadow of what is called a “nurse tree” This is a larger, faster-growing tree that shelters a smaller, slower-growing tree or plant. The nurse tree can provide shade, shelter from wind, or protection from animals who would feed on the smaller plant.

In the Sonoran desert, Palo Verde, Ironwood or mesquite trees serve as nurse trees for young Saguaro cacti. As the Saguaro grows and becomes more acclimated to the desert sun, the older tree may die, leaving the Saguaro alone. In fact, as the Saguaro grows larger it may compete for resources with its nurse tree, and thus, hasten the death of the tree that protected and nurtured it. Consequently, young Saguaros are often seen near trees, but old Saguaros are not.

What does this have to do with leadership?

I am not sure it does.  In fact, I think it really has to do with the relationship between those that surround and, in many ways, nurture leaders and encourage leadership.

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The Business of Ethics

MM - Ethics

I am sure there has been much written about ethics in leadership but I wanted to share some insights recently revealed to me.

I had a visit with some dear friends who have been in leadership positions and one is currently writing a book on “ethics in the university”. He is a retired professor and is a dear friend so, jokingly, I asked him if he had discovered any, to which there was a resounding NO.

The chats usually go with the state of our country then circles around to business models and ethics.

First, I’m not sure why we call it “business ethics”.

Is the place we learn business ethics, in business, or is it too late then?  Our conversation had me asking that question, “Where do we learn” ethics?

Well, I got the standard business answer we all should expect and the one you are thinking. We teach them in college and have training classes and seminars. Which isn’t bad, I might add!

As you may guess at this point in the conversation, I still had plenty of questions. So, one immediate question was; at what age do we start to teach ethics?

Where and when do “we” learn ethics?

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