People who have no leadership experience have a tendency to overestimate the importance of a leadership title. Influence must be earned. Good leaders will gain influence beyond their stated position; bad leaders will shrink their influence down so that they’re actually less than what originally came with the position. Without having experience being the top person, you overestimate the amount of control you would have at the top; the higher you go, the more you realize that many factors control the organization. You need every bit of influence you can muster. Your position doesn’t give you total control or protect you.
My momentary comfort in leading a team towards the individual team members’ success was cut short when I decided to take the high road. I decided to follow my heart’s desire: to teach and train people, to expand my influence, to challenge one’s capacity and will power, to facilitate in bringing out the best in an individual.
The impetus to that desire was the realization that my relationship with my former team has reached the ceiling of growth. The team had constantly been hitting the high bars of their performance. For five consecutive months we have been leading in one key performance indicator, which at that time was imperative to keep our customers satisfied and decide to take another shot at our offered service.
Our customers and clients were hard to please. I get complaints from my team members about their struggles in delivering an excellent service to our hard-to-please, ever-complaining customers. I failed to count how many coaching sessions were spent to develop my team. I spent so may sleepless nights figuring out how to crack the code so my team will hit my company’s targets. I could not count how many reams of bond paper have been used to print out the coaching logs and commitments of my team. I, at one point, felt like I was working too hard to accomplish and hit my goals as a team leader and yet I was ‘under-delivering.’ This is all for the sake of excellence. In hindsight, I felt a pang of regret for making my team see me as a ‘slave driver’ and a perfectionist. I forgot to capitalize on the human side of my coaching sessions.
I figured, I was obsessed with hitting the stats and so I have forgotten the very reason why we were working, the reason I was the team leader: to develop and empower. The self-effacing Keith Reinhard, the CEO of Emeritus of DDB Worldwide, has said that one of his highest goals as a leader is empowering his people as much as possible. He believes that, “people respond to leaders who give credit to their team for success and responsibility upon themselves for failures.”
My new title gives me the opportunity to help bounce back from my failures as a leader. I committed myself to becoming more than big personalities in hopes to lead a successful team. I promised to be deeply in tune with human behavior, and, most critically, understand the values, culture and motivation of my team members towards success and what precipitates their failures.
I was back at square one. I felt like a greenhorn once again as I tried to learn the ropes and retrace my footsteps from when I was starting as a leader. I fell into the trap of making myself believe that to succeed I was to follow rules like we were taught to follow rules at school: that there’s only one right answer and don’t make any mistake. But the real world teaches us otherwise.
The drive to excellence has once again boomeranged on my face as I tried to push my team harder to hit their goals and the team’s goals. I forgot, we were on the same page of learning. I was new to my job and they are, too. I asked myself, “Am I covering up for my lack of knowledge of the topic that I was trying to teach my team?” I stepped back and studied myself. I went back to reading my lessons on Creative Leadership: Creative leadership is built on the idea that everyone at every level in the organization is a leader; that leaders must know themselves, alert to their failings and graces, to better serve the organization; and that only by mastering complexity – both human and organizational – will leaders be able to achieve alignment. A creative leader is self-aware and not weighed down with insecurities, not minding about the perception of his peers and his employees towards him. His ego reflects the reality of his personality and circumstance. He is not selfless and without ego, a creative leader has a healthy sense of self that does not respond to threats. From this emotional vantage point, he is able to effectively lead the team. Leaders who cultivate humility do not trade on hubris, nor is he guilty of denigrating his colleagues to aggrandize himself. Quietly confident, he inspires others to tap their talents and to seek achievement, all in service to the organization and its mission.
I was compelled to grab a book I bought last year in one of my trips. I had been planning to read it for months but I always seem to find an alibi to keep my papyvore proclivities at bay. I found the book in one of the coffee shops we visited in Davao City last July. Initially, we were only wanting to experience the durian coffee at BluGre Café our hosts were talking about. So we relented to go have a taste of what Davao has to offer us aside from their exceptional hospitality and awesome food that hits high in the gastronomic ratings. While in the shop, their local version of Starbucks, I went straight to where the wares are. The usual gizmos of a coffeemonger are on display: mugs, tumblers, cups, the works. Then, I found my treasure. Tonight my boredom won over my procrastination. So as soon as I got in my room I opened Papa’s Table and randomly leafed through the pages. I found myself being walked through the author’s experience riding with his family in the car and watching a movie with his wife in their room. I laughed like an idi*t when I should be sharing my tea and sympathy with Gabo or Mike or whoever son was he whose hair has erectile dysfunction. Then, nostalgia set in. As I allowed myself to be transported into their world, I felt a pang of pain and poignant sentiment over the what-might-have-beens. After two episodes, I sat the book down. I wept. Yes, I cried like a baby after reading “Finally.” The story isn’t at all tear jerky. It is, in fact, funny laced with Filipino humor that will undoubtedly make Filipinos chuckle like idi*ts. When you make a father talk about Sarah-John Lloyd love story, the plot isn’t going to sound tragic-aria-operatic. Yes, ‘A Very Special Love’ has its own intentions and seriousness splattered all over the film’s reel. But, I still resign to the fact that the movie gears towards tacky and gappish. On the contrary, I cried. Not because John Lloyd and Sarah got hitched in the movie [what?!]. I cried because I remembered my dad and my mom whom I never got to see. Ah, the what-might-have-beens.
In an instant, though, I found my bearings back. I found a napkin I brought home from one of my few trips to Starbucks; wiped my tears dry then I started to talk to God. The talk was short. But it felt like having a good cup of coffee on a cold, rainy, lazy day. Quality.
God: I have always been Father, and will always be Father [Ephesians 3:14-15]. I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love [Romans 8:31-32] .
It was enough to silence my spirit. It was more than enough. In an instant I was all right. Better. Ah, the poetry of my Dad never ceases to take my breath away.
Thanks to David Kanigan @ Lead.Learn.Live.
Mentoring inspires and motivates people to achieve and excel. Research would show that people who are mentored are more likely to advance their careers, earn higher salaries, and enjoy their work. This is because people who have mentors and are willing and committed to be mentored are more confident and have higher self-esteem.
It is true that there’s no best way to find a mentor. Sometimes mentoring relationships develop naturally, mentor and mentee click so instantly; other times they are contrived that it takes both hands to reach out to the other party. Whether they occur naturally or unnaturally, mentoring relationships or coaching relationships bring lifetime rewards and benefits.
In my experience as a mentor, the roads aren’t always paved. The roads while i was starting were bumpy and full of potholes. But I didn’t allow these circumstances to faze me in anyway. I chose to take the high road by making sure I was connected to a mentor who is stronger, someone I admire and respect, who impressed me with his insights and perspectives.
There are few things that I learned while mentoring and being mentored. In looking for a mentor you may want to consider the following:
1. Mentorship should offer the F.A.A. – Factual, Actionable Advice. First, mentors need to site references that are factual. Are they citing accurate and true-to-life stories or statistics and researches for that matter? This is where mentorship by experience plays a big and vital role in the mentor-mentee relationship. People are more likely to follow and listen to you when they know and are aware that you are a few laps ahead of them in terms of experience and expertise in the area of life they wish to find success. Second, the offer should be actionable or realistic. Is the advice doable and can be accomplished through the skill set and time that you have? Is it practical? If the advice meets these criteria then you’ve made a match.
2. In looking for a mentor, find someone that has done what you want to accomplish. It may not be the grandest scale of an accomplishment but in essence he has consistently succeeded with innumerable challenges. Look for a person who is not a competitor, who shares the same goals and ideas and advocates individual personal growth.
3. Make sure to be fully prepped up for both the benefits and effects of mentorship. Sometimes mentors have their own ideas and ways which can be helpful or hurtful so make sure your mentor “gets” you and what you are trying to accomplish and achieve. It is important to be decided what kind of mentoring or coaching arrangement you want.
4. Don’t waste your mentor’s time. Never be afraid to approach and ask your mentor for help. The moment you allowed yourself to be under his wing, your mentor is at your disposal until you decide to severe the ties. But be committed to be totally honest, be open to new ideas, and be time sensitive. Your mentor’s time is precious; use it wisely and find ways to give back something. Mentor’s reward is often simply seeing you change and grow.
5. Learn to wear Courage, Humility, and Gratitude. Finding great mentors usually start by mustering up the courage and humility to ask someone that you are willing to be mentored and to be guided. And cultivate gratitude in giving back what your mentor deserves. This is the quality that ensures the success of the mentor-mentee relationship.
6. Do not fall in the trap of the theorists. One of the challenges in looking for a mentor is ‘believability.’ The cliché “It is easier said than done” plays a role in looking for a mentor. Choose a mentor who can prove that he did or has done what he is potentially going to be coaching you on. Too many a times, theorists spread themselves where they want to be found so avoid them; instead, find someone who has walked his talk. You cannot listen to someone who tells you to “win people” when they have none to show.
7. “Get in front of the right people,” advises Jason Kirby of eBoost Consulting. He puts, “The best way to find a mentor is to put yourself out there. Get in front of people you want to be associated with and take the first step in the relationship by approaching them. I found the most effective way to build a relationship with a mentor is to ask for their help, be blunt and tell them exactly why you want to meet them. I have solid list of mentors I can go to for business advice, marketing tips, branding ideas, and personal growth suggestions. What I did was just get in front of them, then introduced myself and brought up the idea of them helping me with something they are experts at. That is all you have to do.”
8. Mentorship is a reciprocal relationship. This is a two-way road where both parties should find themselves driving along. As a mentee, never be afraid to slide in your suggestions in taking the relationship to a higher road. Just make sure that when you call the shots you have earned and deserved the nod.
For more bits and bytes regarding mentorship, I refer you to “Five Ways To Find A Mentor” by Daniel Darling.