Leader as Mentor

In a recent blog, Peter Drucker’s 9 Functions of a Mentor,  Dan Rockwell captures the great leader’s responsibility to grow and develop others – to see in others what they do not see, their incredible gifts, talents and potential, and help them bring it out.

    • Define the landscape – Focus on details to get things done; see the landscape to plot a course.
    • Expose ‘white space’ – define opportunities – what is needed now – Passion disconnected from meeting needs is wasted. Sincerity is not enough.
    • Clarify strengths and capacities -Tapping untapped strengths represents new directions, deeper fulfillment, and greater fruitfulness.
    • Identify incorrect assumptions.  Listen for limiting beliefs.
    • Encouragement to ‘go for it.’  Inspire action. Dreaming big is only a beginning. Dreams without action drain vitality and affirm helplessness.
    • Help sort out the right strategies – Bring strategic thinking to your personal strengths and individual passions.
    • Affirm results – Success creates focus, fuels motivation, and confirms direction.
    • Point out wasted effort  Stopping is harder than starting. One the most challenging lessons in leadership is learning that trying harder doesn’t work, if you’re stuck. Mentors point out spinning wheels and flying mud.
    • Establish “gentle accountability” – Accountability in mentoring relationships is an agreement. It’s not imposed by dictatorial mentors.

These mentoring functions are the beautiful gifts great leaders give to those they serve in their professional and personal life. They inspire the mentored to explore within, understand themselves and what they seek, clarify and challenge and assume ownership. Mentors a gentle guides to self-discovery opening other’s eyes to new possibilities through sharing their experiences and learnings and pushing and challenging them to grow beyond what they think possible.  As Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, wrote:  “Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off.”

(Author’s note: The 9 functions of a mentor are adapted from, “Drucker & Me,” by Bob Buford. Drucker did not list these 9 functions. They emerged in the mentoring relationship.) 

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