Mentoring is Not About Showcasing Your Superiority 


When you’re charged with the responsibility of teaching or mentoring others, the way you proceed may result in developing or hindering others.

A Story: “I was once a customer in a well known fast food establishment.  The main customer service staff was mentoring a new staff member.  The lines were long and the veteran staff member shouted orders to the new staff member, but showed him little about the task at hand.  At one point he said: ‘Now for a test…let’s see if you can make one of these….’  As the mentor provided a dramatic showcase for waiting customers concerning his superiority, the new employee looked at us with a frustrated desperation of: ‘What have I got myself into?'”

The lesson: I walked away embarrassed.  As a manager myself, it appeared repulsive that the veteran employee would substitute a teaching moment where support is offered, with a selfish demonstration of how good he was.

Making a Good Mentor: The lesson is that good mentoring is about (or any teaching) is delivering assistance with support, not showcasing your superiority.  

  1. As a mentor you are as much a learner, as a teacher.
  2. Superiority is about you, not the development of others.  It means if I have to look better than you, I must feel pretty weak.
  3. Mentoring is not about discouraging others 
  4. Good mentoring should make others feel more confident.
  5. Teaching others is not about testing them, especially in front of customers. That makes your customers doubt your organization’s capacity.

The sad lesson from the story above is that the veteran employee in all his confidence actually made himself and the organization look bad.  

Teaching capacity in others is about being humble, supportive and caring.  

If you don’t care about the people you teach, how can you expect them to take care of the organization?

Eliminating the Gap Between Good Intentions and Follow Through

As Thomas Jefferson said: “If you want something that you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” 
The gap between getting from point A to B is one of personal fortitude.  A key attribute between meeting your intentions by following through is related to how much ownership you possess.  

Jefferson appears to imply that getting a result is inherent on how much you desire to follow through.  

Sadly, good intentions miss the mark when our desire is based on something other than having clear ownership for the goal.

Closing the Saying and Doing Gap

What are the qualities needed to follow through? 

  1. Explore how much you want something.  Know what it means to you, and why.  Failure to answer the why…you need to question whether you have the right objective.
  2. Does your heart (beliefs, feelings) tell you that you’re on the right track?
  3. Make a ‘graded task assignment’ – break the follow through into manageable chunks. 
  4. Create an accountability structure.  Who is going to keep you accountable for getting there. Set up reporting periods.
  5. Examine what failing would be like.  What are the consequences of inaction?  What are the costs and benefits?
  6. What do successes look like?  What is the payoff to follow through?

Develop the spirit to stretch beyond what you think is your capability.  Do something you’ve never done.

Leading and the Act of Loyalty

  
The act of leading is more than being the visionary, or acting thoughtfully for others.  It is predicated also on how loyal and unconditionally helpful you are to others.

In many ways people cannot follow you if they can’t trust where you’re coming from.  

Great ideas are best acted on when others in the room know where you stand with them.  Teams stall when they don’t know what to expect from you.

Ways loyalty drives others

  1. When others feel you truly respect them.
  2. When you create a clear vision.
  3. Going out of your way to help.
  4. Taking interest in what people want to do.
  5. Being consistent

Servant Leadership, unconditional positive regard, and thoughtful patience are all specific behaviors that can engage your loyalty to others.  

Each time you consider the little things with others, you amplify your influence, and enlarge your leadership footprint.  

Getting More Clarity in Our Lives

 
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The idea that we can do more in less time is an alluring idea.  Multi-tasking is often the instant fix we crave to deal with the real feelings of being overwhelmed and overcommitted.  If we take a deeper look, the feelings we have are more a part of misguided priorities and moving away from better clarity in our lives.

The Multi-tasking Myth: Clarifying your vision and values

Starting out with a clear definition of what you are (your role), and what you want to do (your values), is the beginnings of real clarification.  

The reasons we feel we need to multi-task is that others have defined our roles and values, and we have let them.  

The reasons multi-tasking doesn’t work is because it isn’t aligned with a clear vision, and tasks are not grouped in a way where energy expended maximizes getting things done. 

Creating your Clarity – Learning to Say No

Another reason that clarity is lost, is that reasonable boundaries in our lives and work are not developed.  

In order to create more clarity, you have to decide on the reasonable limits needed to really succeed in your roles.

 The ‘being everything to everyone’ idea is another example of going down the wrong direction faster.

Developing and Maintaining Real Clarity

  1. Define who you are and what contributions you want to make.
  2. Define the ways you want to serve others.  Clarity without service, is like having empty goals.
  3. Reinforce and reflect daily on whether you are staying on track.  You know that you’re off track when you’ve fallen into many things that don’t get closure in your life.
  4. Keep clarity by evaluating things you do.  Are you allowing yourself to say no?

Having clarity means we are focused on things that have a defined beginning and end.  

Energy is focused, and distractions are minimized.

The 4 Stages of Influence

Influencing others is a humble and respectful enterprise.

   
Influence is an easy to understand but hard to implement strategy in interpersonal relationships.  The opposite is ‘resistance’, and a close cousin is ‘change’.  The confusing thing is that the meaning of influence sometimes gets mixed up with ‘manipulation’, a less than desirable behavior.

Influence is generally regarded as the ability to change something or someone because you’ve built the trust needed to make it happen.  Influence just ‘doesn’t’ happen, so how does it occur?

The 4 Stages of Influence 

Those that influence the best are those that have the most humility.  

  1. Letting yourself be influenced by others.  When you open yourself to learning, listening and replying, you have begun the process of influencing another.  Going where someone is communicates their importance to you.
  2. Engaging in trusting actions.  It’s hard to influence others without being trustworthy yourself.  This step takes patience and time.  If you’re rushing this, then you’re likely engaging in subtle manipulation.
  3. Having a valued skill or behavior. A component to influencing another, is having knowledge, skill, or behavior that others legitimately value in some way.  Using this in ways that help others is often the glue that builds your ability to build influence and build confidence in your actions.
  4. Showing humility.  Those that influence the best are those that have the most humility.  A person that makes a lot of noise around themselves, creates a shallow outcome of manipulation.  Influencing others is a humble and respectful enterprise.  One meant to build others up, rather than build one’s ego.
  • Which steps may you be using? Which ones are absent as you work with others?

Recognizing Personal “Drift” In Our Lives

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Like the constant pounding of the surf, we may find ourselves being “pounded”.  Numerous demands, and pressures may take their toll.  For many, the solution is to engage in “personal drift.”  The results of this can lead to more problems than the original pressures that created it.

The precursors to “drift” – 

  1. Overcommitment
  2. We’re too over-involved in things that don’t really matter
  3. We’re being confronted by things that overwhelm us, or scare us emotionally (we’re in over our heads)
  4. Lack of skill – we don’t know what we’re doing
  5. We have lost our passion

The “drift” – What happens:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Engaging in easy, but inconsequential activities or projects
  3. Falling short on our requirements of our job
  4. Engaging in destructive personal behaviors
  5. “Emotional Amnesia” – we disconnect

The drift is subtle, slow and happens without much fanfare or notice.  Co-workers, family members, and others around us notice our tendency to be distant, irritable, insensitive, and not at our best.  Our workplace may notice a slow drift away from the standards of practice that we were accustomed.  Our emotional amnesia becomes a constant defense against the outside world of the pounding surf.  It is hard to extract ourselves from this pattern.

With many the results are:

  • Poor health, constant illness, and emotional resentment
  • Missed opportunities in life

Ways of recognizing when you’re drifting: Ongoing self assessment.  There are countless ways to self assess, and many of them are basic.  Journaling, using a Moleskine, obtaining regular feedback, and exercise are just the common approaches.  Others can include the following simple self assessment:

  • What standards do I subscribe to?
  • How do I feel?
  • Where am I, in respect to where I want to be?

In other words, the solution is right in front of you.  Pulling up the blinders periodically is a great place to start.  The questions are really internal.  We already have the answers inside us, but are sometimes too afraid to ask them.

The Silent Factors Behind Organizational Success

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Sustaining organizational momentum is a result of three key attributes. This doesn’t mean that human resources and capital are not important.  

The intrinsic qualities that make an organization succeed are the things that are not readily seen, but silently there.

The silent factors to organizational success

The Skill that is imbedded in human resources is an area that separates the mediocre from the spectacular organization.  The most critical decision is how each part of your teams are assembled and implemented.  Less skilled individuals can silently weaken the best strategy and effort.  

Everyone says they have skills, but when the rubber meets the road, those with the intrinsic skill carries the organization.

Clarity in thinking or Awareness of the organization, its beliefs, and purpose is a silent driver that helps the different imperatives move or stall.  Those that drive projects, need to be very conscientious and possess great personal awareness.  

Talk is great, but those with the ability to think ahead exponentially drive progress and sustainability. 

Authenticity is making things real and being real.  There are a lot of charlatans out there trying to show something, but with little depth beyond a personal agenda.

Authenticity is present when a person’s skill, and awareness all line up

Many leaders in organizations lack the skill and awareness, and end up acting as if they have no substance. 

Sustaining is about keeping these factors present

When the leader keeps these factors lined up, and makes decisions according to these factors, sustaining the organization occurs more readily.  When the leader takes their eye off of any one of these silent factors, the organization may face weaknesses.

4 Ways to Recognize Your Mistakes



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The saying goes: “You don’t know what you don’t know…” means that people don’t have enough awareness to know how they are making mistakes.  This may be true in some instances, but many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do.  Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

Many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do. 

Pattern Recognition – Many mistakes are repeated cycles or patterns of problem behavior. The problem behavior often happens over and over as if it is a sequence of actions made up of faulty thinking.  We can’t help ourselves, we use the same faulty logic, and repeat the same behaviors – hoping things will change.

Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

The solution lies in recognition – Much like the patchwork of buildings in the photo above, there is a pattern.  Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  Obviously, if we can begin to realize we’re not getting the results we want, then we begin the journey of correcting our mistakes.

Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  

The ‘pain’ of mistakes increases your ability to recognize a different path can lie ahead.

4 Ways to recognize your mistakes

  • Self-Reflection: Write or journal about the ‘repeated’ sequences and poor outcomes you’re receiving – there is purpose and a reason behind the mistakes.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are given to us to learn from. 

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

  • Exercise Humility: Ask someone close to you if they see a problem pattern – what do they see?
  • Ask Yourself: What am I doing repeatedly to get the same result?
  • What do others do to get different results?

Repeated sequences create similar results.  What behaviors in your life may be repeated mistakes?


The Importance of Brevity

When is too much, too much?

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Photo by the author

Complexity is often a function of a number of things:

1. ) Obscuring the message.
2.) Creating an air of superiority
3.) A lack of knowledge
4.) Not knowing what to look for

Simplicity’s Impact
Developing a simplicity approach is often desirable and presents more information and insight than communicating a complex message. It may seem a paradox, but the shorter, and more focused a message is, the more the message carries.

Knowing what to look for
Knowing what to look for is an important precursor to knowing what to communicate in a simplified and targeted way. Inexperience in knowing what is important, leads to the need to communicate more information than what is needed, and likely an uncertainty in the communication.

Ways to build brevity into your life
1. Avoid constant second guessing. Learn to trust your intuition.
2. Build skills where you identify your weaknesses.
3. Learn more about what you’re working with. Increased knowledge brings with it increased ability to simplify what you are saying.
4. Where further information is needed, you can expand the message.

When working with new employees, and individuals learning in an area for the first time, be patient, and teach the skill of brevity. Anxiety about a situation needs to be managed. Keeping in mind that having all the information is not necessarily desirable, and that follow up can be a regular and routine part of the communication process.>