My mentor, J. Robert Clinton, author of Leadership Emergence Theory, conducted extensive research on how a leader is developed. Using grounded theory methodology he and his team studied the lives of biblical, historical, and contemporary leaders. 3800 case studies have been amassed. One of the key findings is that very few leaders finish well. Those who have finished well have had 10 to 15 significant mentors in their lives.
Not too long ago I was interviewed on the subject of mentoring. The interviewer knew I was committed to mentoring others. He himself had benefitted from mentoring. Three questions were asked of me.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking for a mentor?
- Read Connecting by Stanley and Clinton. This resource provides excellent guidance in finding a mentor.
- Identify the issue, area, or concern you hope a mentor will be able to address.
- Determine what type of mentor you need (discipler, spiritual guide, coach, counselor, teacher, sponsor, or passive mentor - someone who can provide needed resources from a distance).
- Determine what will comprise your view of a successful outcome. What objectives do you hope to reach?
- Prepare a single page document outlining your mentoring need, the type of mentor you seek, what you will provide in the relationship (i.e., your commitment, what you will provide in the relationship, your teachability and willingness to take direction,
- Look for someone who has demonstrated expertise in your area of need.
- Meet with the potential mentor and pursue establishing a 3-month mentoring relations, at the end of which both of you can decide to continue or terminate the relationship.
- Seek advice from trusted advisers regarding their mentor recommendations.
- Be willing to engage the journey and leave the destination to God.
What red flags do you see that would lead you to say no to investing in someone?
- Lack of clarity regarding their need for mentoring.
- Unwillingness to be held accountable.
- Too many verbal conditions or reservations.
- Lack of follow through with an initial assignment meant to test their commitment.
- Argumentative spirit, arrogance, defensiveness, or otherwise poor attitude.
- Resistance to advice or counsel.
- Victim mentality that sees no hope of victory.
- Someone who wants association without responsibility.
Your recent book Setting Your Course is about helping people live focused lives. Why this book? Where are leaders missing it?
Many leaders live unfocused lives with little intentionality, reacting to circumstances, bouncing from one crisis to another, and living a life of mediocrity. Situational lifestyles are adopted to make one’s way forward – patterns of avoidance, reaction, transference, indecision, and obsession – all motion with little forward progress. Coming to clarity regarding your divinely ordained wiring will help a leader move from scattered engagement to laser beam focus. A calibrated compass tuned to the heart of God (beliefs, values, attitudes, and motives) will help a leader understand and navigate the unique terrain of their journey (biblical purpose - beingness, life purpose - doingness, committed passion - focus of engagement, role boundaries - supporting context, unique methodologies - your tool kit, and ultimate contribution - the aroma you will leave when God calls you home. Finding guides by the side will help a leader reach his or her destiny. The book provides a framework for developing a Focused Life Plan consisting of a compass – personal alignment plan, map – personal life mandate, and guide – personal mentoring strategy. The compass provides direction, the map provides the journey we are to take, and the guide provides assistance to reach our God-ordained destiny.
To be continued…