Active Mentoring 

What Does the Mentor / Protégé Relationship Look Like?

When you pause a few moments to think about it, consider just how great it would be to sit down with one of the most well-known leaders of all time. Wouldn’t that be incredible?

I would never put myself out there as that level of leader for a moment. But, I know that what everyone wants is that sense of a 1-on-1 dialog and they want that intimate relationship that is built through the kinds of conversations that occur over an extended period of time.

What is the Vision?

My vision is to create that kind of mentoring relationship where we are handcrafting leaders in small batches and not stamping them out in a factory automated format. One size has never fit all. And building more Emotionally Agile Leaders is an artisan process rather than a mass-production process.

Leadership is modeled. It is not taught. Leadership must be lived out and demonstrated before our protégés eyes to be able to impact followers and impact those who would yearn to be a leader too.

Mentoring is not a mass production process. It is done more in the style of an artisan or craftsman who painstakingly creates a work of art one at a time over a substantial period of time.

It is no accident!

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Learn From Your Life

A few years back I wrote about how nothing in our life is wasted.  This post further explores some simple ways that you can learn from your life and use the lessons you can learn to help those who are coming up behind us.

I was sitting at a friends house the other night and began chatting with his 14  year-old son about girls, money, business, growing up, faith, and making good choices. I’m sure it was a fun conversation for a teenager on a Friday night, but he was kind and obliged my candor and strong opinions.

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Skill Sets for the “Youngers”

Mentoring Moment for 20140210 - 1In a previous Mentoring Moment, I suggested that Mentors and Leaders need to help make sure our young people have the right skill sets to be attractive new hires. I let open exactly what those skill sets might be. Well, a friend recently sent me a newsletter that makes it clear what our employers are looking for in their new hires. Here are the top ten qualities employers feel will help them gain a competitive edge with the right employees.

Washington – With the economy and job market continuing to slowly improve, more employers are shifting their focus from survival mode to gaining a competitive advantage.

Mentoring Moment for 20140210 - 2“Employers want workers who can help them capitalize on the improved economy and benefit from opportunities presented by less competitively skilled and structured companies. They are looking for workers with skills to help them to quickly grow their businesses, cut their costs and improve their operations,” said Dr. David Miles.

“The lower unemployment rate and improved economy represent good and bad news for job-seekers. While there are generally more jobs available, there is even more competition for them. This is putting added pressure on employees to possess ‘must-have’ skills,” added Miles.

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Another Reason to Take Care of Our “Youngers”

Another Reason to Take Care of Our Youngers - 1I am beginning a short adventure in Western Europe. So, I thought I would try to learn a bit about my environment. Things are very different here. The economics, education, families, are very different. Locals do not blink to pay several dollars for a small plastic bottle of Coke or Dr. Pepper or a month’s rent for a nice dinner. The very fabric of the workplace is also very different. The undercurrent often seems to be that Europeans are superior to Americans and that we are a couple of generations behind them socially. But I found one area that we should try to avoid.

Another Reason to Take Care of Our Youngers - 2Please do not interpret anything herein as a criticism of life here. People have been very warm, inviting and friendly and I think I am going to love my adventure. That is not the point. The point that I hope to make is that we, as Leaders can learn from our Western European colleagues as we try to assist and support our younger generation towards greatness.

I want to share some recent research that caught my attention studying why the younger generation and employers are so mismatched. Some of the findings suggest ways that you and I should be focusing on our efforts to mentor, lead and support the younger ones around us.

Here is the proposition:

The problem of youth unemployment in the European Union is not new. Youth unemployment has been double or even triple the rate of general unemployment in Europe for the last 20 years. The events of the past few years have dramatically exacerbated it, however: 5.6 million young people are unemployed across Europe, and a total of 7.5 million are neither being educated nor are they working. Moreover, while young people are eager to work, more than half of those without jobs say they simply can’t find one—all while businesses across Europe insist they struggle to find young people with the skills they need.

Another Reason to Take Care of Our Youngers - 3This sounds terrible to me. There are areas where things may be slightly better, but there are areas where things are much worse. For example, in Italy, the unemployment rate for people under 24 years of age is more that 40%. The root cause for this appears to be

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Music and Happiness

MM - 20130620First of all, it is your responsibility to be happy at work. Let’s be clear, your boss does not care that you are happy if you are productive. Your office mates like you more when you are happy, but nowhere in their job descriptions does it require them to make you happy.

Alas, this is easier said than done. The odds are against happiness at work.

On the other hand, rudeness at work is easy, rampant, and on the rise. In 2011, half of the workers surveyed by Thunderbird School of Global Management said they were treated rudely at least once a week — up from a quarter in 1998. Yikes. And there is a tangible cost of this bad behavior.

Through a poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries, a recent study shows just how people’s reactions play out. Among workers who’ve been on the receiving end of incivility:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort
  • 47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work
  • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident
  • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender
  • 66% said that their performance declined
  • 78% said that their commitment to the organization declined
  • 12% said that they left their job because of the uncivil treatment
  • 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers

Here are some examples of what can happen as a result of incivility:

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No Surprises Management

MM - 20130613 - 1Trial lawyers know well the “goosey – gander rule”. What would happen if we apply the “goosey – gander rule” to the concept of no surprises management from the employee perspective?

Simply, the “goosey – gander rule” is based on a sense of what is good for one party in a relationship, is good for the other party. In court, the idea is that if a ruling is made one way for a party, when a similar issue arises for the other party, the court’s ruling should be the same. Examples include interpretation of the rules of evidence or the amount of leeway an attorney is given to examine an uncooperative witness. The “surprise” the second attorney feels with an inconsistent ruling is avoided by the application of the “goosey – gander rule”. In court, surprises like this relate to appeals, and avoiding appeals on such matters is a good thing.

Does the “goosey – gander rule” apply at work? We all know that bosses hate surprises and that we work very hard to avoid them (no surprises management (NSM) is a term long associated with the idea that the best way to succeed is not to surprise your boss). What are bosses doing to keep workers informed so that the workers are not surprised? Shouldn’t the “goosey – gander rule” apply at work?

MM - 20130613 - 2James Heskett, from Harvard, suggests that NSM should be applied downward. He has some data that suggests that significant improvements in performance can be associated with leadership that produces no surprises for those lower in the organization. He suggests that NSM applied downward can improve trust of management, increase attention to deliverables and to work tasks by workers, lower turnover and increase profits. To me, NSM is a form of alignment on goals and objectives of an organization and upon the tasks needed to achieve the same.

As leaders, James poses the challenge of understanding what NSM means to your team. What do you think? Is a worker entitled the “goosey – gander rule” applied at work? Is management by surprise a useful tool?


Photo credit: Chrissy Downunder / / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: Jeremy Brooks / / CC BY-NC

Mentoring Moment – Putting Your $$$ to Work for You

The 2012 Tax Season is winding down for most of us. Many of us (although not me) have already received refunds. Question: what did you do with yours? Did you set an example and save anything for the future?

In this Mentoring Moment, I want to speak to some of the younger readers of LV (and after the Saturday before last, I know you are out there!). I rely heavily on some work by Emily Brandon that goes back to the Fall of 2011 when she wrote about “Gen Y’s $2 Million Retirement Price Tag.”

MM - 20130530-1

There is no question about it, “Twenty Somethings” will need to save much more than their parents did for retirement.

A recent research report by the Pew Charitable Trusts says younger baby boomers and Generation Xers face an uncertain retirement because of reduced savings, high levels of debt, and losses during the Great Recession.

The study found that members of Generation X, who are now between 38 and 47 years old, lost almost half their wealth between 2007 and 2010. Young baby boomers, who are between 48 and 57, lost more money but a smaller portion of their overall wealth. The report says both of those groups are struggling to save enough money for retirement and are lagging older groups in terms of their savings. They also hold more debt than those groups did at similar points in their lives.

Retirement won’t be impossible for Generations X and Y, but they will need

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Mentoring Milli-moment (shorter than a full Moment)

For everyone who will be traveling this summer season, for work or for play, I have an important message. You probably do what most people do and take pre-trip safety for granted. Especially on airplanes, we are doing our own things and focused on our families, getting our iToys plugged in and ready for the trip, and so on, and, if you are on a business trip, you are managing a beverage and pretending to do work – to justify the trip and to show off in case a colleague or contractor sees you.

Thus, in the spirit of Safety and Wellness, please allow me to translate at least part of the message we either block out or ignore on flights:

MM - 20130523(Source: New Yorker Magazine)

The same general technique applies to automobiles, too. Folks will be checking, so please comply to ensure safe travels.

What Makes a Good Mentor and Mentee?

Mentor 1How-to books are full of advice on what makes a good mentor. But what makes a good mentee and what chemistry is needed to make the relationship work?

People being mentored should be open to feedback and be active listeners, according to a new research paper. They should also be respectful of their mentor’s time, including being on time and prepared for meetings.

And it helps to follow at least some of their advice.

“Successful mentorship is vital to career success and satisfaction for both mentors and mentees,” said Dr. Sharon Straus, a researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital and author of the paper published online in Academic Medicine.

Dr. Straus examined mentor-mentee relationships at two large academic health centers, the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine and the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, where she is director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine. She said

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Mentoring Moment – Career Killers

career-fair-2011-4_lHistorically, first quarter hiring has often been followed by some form of corporate housecleaning. And we all struggle to avoid being housecleaned. So, in the spirit of offering some career leadership advice, please consider the following Mentoring Moment for today.


Here is a (short) list of career killers for employees to avoid:

  1. Clock watching.  This includes stopping work before your proper quitting time and intentionally working at a slow pace to avoid more work. This behavior sends a message that you feel you are on your own time after work and you don’t want to be bothered by telephone calls or emails after quitting time. It is increasingly risky to do this and not become branded a ‘9 to 5 employee’ who can’t or won’t handle responsibility well.
  2. Sitting on your hands.  Employees who do this fail to report problems they are aware of or suggest solutions to them.
  3. Disclosing confidential information.  This conduct comprises offering privileged information to a potential employer during an interview, posting it to social media and with friends or co-workers. This behavior may in fact be illegal and carry civil or monetary penalties.
  4. Using social media to bad-mouth employers.  There is a growing list of employees who have been terminated for

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