In one of our recent department meetings, we discussed The Seven E’s Of Enhancing Potential To Build An Effective, High-Performance Organization from The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy. This is a great book about building people and teams that win consistently.
Leadership is a “contact” sport. Be engaged with those you lead in order for them to trust that you care and for them to want to believe in you as a leader. Mentor leaders walk alongside the people they lead. They spend time with their teams and find ways to understand each member. Tony Dungy said, “as a 50-something coach working with Generation Y and Millennial athletes, I had to find ways to plug in – whether by enlisting my teenage son’s help as a ‘consultant’ or by hiring young coaches”. Anything that opens up the lines of communication and allows us to engage others is a step in the right direction. Mentor leaders must be approachable.
Good teachers help every student earn an A. ~Wilbur Dungy
Workers who are new to a task cannot be empowered and elevated until they’ve been educated in what to do. By providing others with an opportunity to grow, we help them become even more valuable members of the team, even as we’re building the overall strength of the team. Take a hands-on, one-on-one approach to mentoring individual lives. Educate them for success.
Create an environment where others can be productive and excel. Strive to furnish what is needed for the task – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually — and to accomplish the mission and be successful. Equipping is an ongoing process. As various tools/skills are mastered, we can keep honing them and looking to add more.
Correction does much, but encouragement does more. ~Goethe
Nothing does more to lubricate the rough spots than a good dose of encouragement. Mentor leaders care. Mentor leaders encourage. It’s important to play to your strengths and find others to complement your weaknesses, but encouragement is one aspect of leadership that you can’t delegate – you simply have to master it, whether you are predisposed to it or not. You can’t use the culture you were raised in as an excuse. It’s not just in tough situations that people need encouragement. Even when things are going smoothly, it’s important to build people up. Once you start winning, don’t forget to encourage. Don’t just point out areas that need improvement. As a mentor leader, you’re probably better off overusing than underusing encouragement. Soften criticism. Remind people that they can achieve great things.
Once people are ready, it’s time to turn them loose, but not before they are ready. If they’re not ready, you’re only setting them up to fail.
Even as they face their own daily struggles and stresses, mentor leaders look for ways to energize, motivate and inspire those they lead. Perry Fewell took over the head coaching reigns of the Buffalo Bills in the middle of the 2009 season. That’s always a tough situation. The ship has sailed, but it’s sinking. That’s why you got the job. And now you have to get the ship headed in the right direction without the benefit of time for planning and preparation that a preseason provides. You have only a few days to reorient your staff and players and get ready for the next game. Perry said one of his most important tasks was to get the players to a point of believing in themselves – and quickly. He began preaching the benefits of viewing themselves more as a group than as a collection of individuals. “Powerful Beyond Measure” became his rallying cry. The concept was that together they were more powerful than the measurement of their individual talents. Energize your team’s efforts by believing in them. Energize them to go forward and inspire them to achieve greatness.
Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less ME and more WE.
As a leader you have to function with the goals of your organization in mind. But the ultimate goal of every mentor leader is to build other leaders. The regenerative idea that leaders produce leaders, who in turn produce leaders – is a powerful concept for mentor leaders and their organizations. At the heart of this regeneration is the principle of elevation – raising people up.
Elevating is difficult. People can become afraid of elevating someone who might end up taking their place, but raising up leaders is the truly selfless goal of every mentor leader – focusing on others. To elevate your followers means to help them reach their God-given potential. If leaders are focused on multiplying their efforts and growing other leaders for long-term, sustainable success, they will succeed in building organizations that are full of leaders. Some leaders don’t want to be replaced. They think it reflects better on their leadership abilities if the organization simply can’t run without them, and thus they are tempted to leave others in the dark. Always make sure you lead in a way that you leave things in better shape than you found them.
The mentor leader adds value to the lives of others, to make the lives of other people better.
The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. ~Albert Schweitzer
If leadership isn’t about us and what we can get for ourselves, which I have suggested it should not be, then the fleeting treasures by which so many people gauge their worth – the promotions, raises, accolades and awards – are no longer measuring sticks. Instead, the success of a mentor leader can be measured with things of significance: lives of impact, lives that are better because of your leadership.
The mentor leader’s ultimate measure of success is simply this: Did you add value to the lives of others?
Regardless of wins or losses, you have succeeded as a mentor leader if you have improved the lives of those you lead.
There is always someone whose life you can affect for good. Do it!
It’s not about us; it’s about everything that God can do through us, for others.
At the end of it all, if even one life is better because we lived, our lives have significance