Last year I turned 40 (it’s OK, I’m Asian so I still look 20).
One of the ways I celebrated was by having a “Gratitude Party”. It was an opportunity for me to invite all the key people in my life who had deposited so much wisdom, time and love into me. I was so grateful for them and I wanted them to know that they had blessed me in such a way that was life giving and life changing. I wanted them to know that what they had invested in me was being actively passed forward to others.
It was a small group of people that consisted of my parents, previous church Pastors, youth group leaders, personal and business mentors, past and present board members etc.
They thought they were coming to a party that was about me. They had a lovely shock when they found out that they were coming to a party that was about them.
During our dinner, I took the time to share about each of them and a small part of how they inspired me to be the best me and to live with an outward focus. As I write this, I continue to be overwhelmed with gratitude for their influence on my life.
So believe me when I say, that I believe in the power of mentors!
You would be incorrect to think that leaders lead in isolation. Leaders lead in the context of relationship.
Effective mentorship is not an accident, but rather a conscious and rhythmic commitment to a two-way developmental relationship. Some of these insights which I will share with you now.
There’s an Ancient Leadership Proverb that says:
‘When an individual is ready the mentor will appear.’
But what is mentoring?
Mentoring is less results-oriented and more relationally focused. The starting place is to realise the basic differences between consulting, coaching and mentoring.
Consultants provide expert insight and solutions from an external perspective for leaders within organisations.
➝ Focus: Organisational Development
➝ Expertise: Specific Technical Matter
Coaches partner with individual leaders to identify short-term goals and areas of professional development.
➝ Focus: Performance Development
➝ Expertise: Specific Professional Matter
Mentors advise and guide individual leaders via their own professional experience.
➝ Focus: Personal Development
➝ Expertise: General Personal Experience
SUCCESSFUL MENTORING RELATIONSHIPS
There are three fundamental characteristics of a successful mentoring relationship. Each is essential to ensure a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship.
There is an ancient Hebrew saying that states, ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’ The foundation for a successful mentoring relationship is based on your ability to be open to the insights and wisdom your potential mentor has to share. Trusted mentors will never seek to flatter you, rather they will share truth based on their own personal journeys.
Being teachable is about actively listening and reflecting. Mentors are not motivational cheerleaders, they are there to help identify your motivations and bring about changes in your life. Mentors will help you discover you perceptual biases, blindspots and weaknesses. Great mentors are natural agitators, who will challenge your best thinking.
Responsibility is taking personal ownership for the commitments you make. My first mentor looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘I want you to know, as soon as our meetings become more important for me than you, we are done. You are either going to have results from our time together or just a good story.’
He confronted me because he cared, and he wanted me to understand the intentional value and investment he was making in our relationship. He also wanted me to resist making excuses and take full responsibility for the results of our time together.
We live in an individualistic society based on individual achievement. I’ve discovered if you fight for things in your life you will go further than the person who fights for nothing. But you will never go further than the person who has people fighting for them.
Mentorship is all about relationship. Both people benefit from the relationship. The depth of connection and personal investment will bring immense satisfaction and genuine fulfilment to both parties involved.