Category: Mentoring

Great Leaders are NEVER Too Busy to Learn!

By , November 6, 2013 9:07 pm

Never too busy to learn“Many leaders fail to gain knowledge because they have too much to do – they’re going too fast and trying to accomplish too much.”

~ Kenneth Blanchard, Author

From my experience, many leaders put their own development needs last and fail to grow their own knowledge and skills. They are too busy working at a crazy pace to get everything done and try to keep up with the never ending flow of work. So they become stagnant and even fall behind.

I was recently working with a client called Tom who was overwhelmed. He was trying to accomplish too much and was totally unaware of (and frightened to recognize) his own limitations. He actually thought that others would see his limitations as a flaw or a weakness and therefore a poor leader. He started to compensate for this by trying to be everything to everyone instead of stepping back and admitting his own learning needs.

He was great at developing his team and making sure that they sharpened their saw, as Stephen Covey describes it! But he certainly didn’t practice what he preached!

Over time, he became the bottleneck in his business:  his lack of up to date knowledge and skills were slowing his team down. His team started to become frustrated as he became more of a micro-manager, taking more and more on because of his own lack of self-confidence.

Taking time to learn was the last thing on his mind! He needed to keep things going so couldn’t possibly spend time on himself.  He just didn’t have the time and was unwilling to step away from the business to learn and grow.

His unwillingness to learn was detrimental to the team and their effectiveness, even though that was the last thing he wanted. He hadn’t realized his own impact on the rest of the team.

Tom is typical of many leaders. It’s easy to get distracted by internal or external factors that steal your attention and focus. If your attention is splattered and you’re trying to do too much, this lack of focus can be disastrous. You become overwhelmed and burnt out, your team becomes confused and demotivated, and your performance (and theirs) dips significantly.

Tom learned the hard way the importance of consistently making time to gain knowledge is essential for his and the team’s success. He needed to focus on growing himself if he wanted to grow the team, and ultimately their success.

You’ve probably heard of the saying: Take time to make time…

Learning is not a one and done event as a leader and there is NO arrival! Things will always need to be on your radar and being open and committed to learning and growth has got to become a part of who you are as a leader if you truly want to be successful.

Here’s what taking time to make time looks like for an effective leader:

1. Understand your people – Get to know and recognize the differences of the people that you work with. Understanding WHY people behave the way they do can help you to influence them and help to reduce any conflict as it arises because you are aware of their filters and preferences. You GET them! How are you different to them? How can you best serve people?

2. Leaders are readers – Learn about leadership by reading or listening to audios or watching DVD’s. Reading is a great foundation for acquiring knowledge and developing yourself. It’s a powerful, fast way to learn for many people. Thirty minutes a day listening to an audio as you travel to or from work is an easy way to get started – that’s 2.5 hours a week!

3. Take responsibility for your growth – Stop putting this off! Accept that part of being a leader is your ability to be open and honest with yourself. No one is great at EVERYTHING! Understand your strengths and weaknesses – it’s okay, we all have them! Play to your strengths and look for ways to outsource things that are not your genius work. What are your learning and leading preferences?

4. Every leader is a learner – All great leaders are constantly learning and growing. As you develop, new challenges present themselves so you are continually stretching out of your comfort zone to create a new normal. You are ALWAYS growing. This includes understanding and gaining knowledge of your industry or business and how it is changing.

5. Reach out for help – You may already be proactive at helping others grow and encouraging them to reach out to you for help. NOW it’s your turn! Look for great teachers or mentors who can help you to grow. This is NOT a sign of weakness it is a sign of leadership! Learn from people who are already experienced in what you want to learn. One of best ways of learning is then to reach out to others and teach it to them… passing the knowledge and skills forward to your team!

If you’re going too fast, you’ll not accomplish anything. So slow down to speed up!

Make your continuous learning an essential part of your business strategy, whether you work in corporate or you own your own business.

Great leaders are NEVER too busy to learn!

 

How to choose a good role model/mentor…

By , March 27, 2013 2:32 am

iStock_000014997780Small… But realize that mentoring is also about helping people learn to be themselves. You do this by honoring what is good and unique about those you are mentoring, not by trying to bend them to your image.”

~ James A. Autry , The Servant Leader

I’m often asked how do you select a good mentor?

Role models are an important way to learn. We’ve been using them since we were kids: Watching how other people do things, copying their behaviour and then modeling it to make it our own.

Most of what we learn is experiential, we learn by trial and error – hit or miss! This can be hard work, frustrating, and cost time, effort and money!

Some of my first mentors were authors whom I’d never met, but whose books I’d read from cover to cover and started to model their recommended behaviours to get results. You may have heard the term: Leaders are readers and reading is a great place to start but it can only take you so far…

It’s hard to do everything on your own. Sometimes it’s important to reach out for help to someone who is a head of you on the journey.

IMPORTANT NOTE…Be selective about who you choose…

Some people say ALL the right things (especially on the internet!), they have an exciting website claiming success and oozing confidence. However, on closer inspection you find that they are not what they claim to be and are just copying authentic mentors and claiming false expertise.

These people create a negative experience because there is no depth or breadth to their knowledge or expertise (in other words they are full of BS!). You will walk away from this feeling disappointed and confused. They are false and incongruent.

Here’s what I know and share with my clients.

A good mentor is…

1.    The AFTER of your BEFORE! Selecting a good mentor can save you time and stop you from making mistakes. They can help you get further faster because they have already experienced what you want to learn and are two or three levels ahead of you – they can speak your language. You can learn from their wisdom and experience. Select the best, you deserve to learn from someone who has already been there and achieved what you want to achieve. As you progress to another level, you’ll choose a different mentor who is at a higher level (don’t reach too high too soon!).

2.    Authentic. There is more to a good mentor than just their professionalism, skills and expertise. To be an inspirational role model they have to demonstrate personal characteristics that you’d like to emulate too. How you do anything, is how you do everything! It’s not just the qualification that counts – it’s the application of the qualification. Personal and professional are linked and inter-connected. Having similar values are hugely important if you want the learning experience to be successful. Their values will influence yours and if they are incongruent, the relationship won’t work. Check this out through their published work, how they show up and through testimonials. Professional and personal go hand in hand – check this out. Do you like them and what they stand for?

3.    ‘Wise’ and credible. The most common definition of mentoring comes from the Greeks: A wise and trusted advisor. A good mentor is intuitive and can provide great guidance with just a few words. They bring a different perspective to your situation. Having the ability to laser into the situation they can help you to see hidden opportunities to make the undoable – doable. They also demonstrate success through proven experience in their profession. Seek out the advice of people who are actively successful in what you want to learn. Their credibility is real and not just claimed!

4.    Changes lives. There is a huge difference between mentors who claim this and those that actually add value and make a difference. You can feel the difference at a cellular level. Genuine mentors model personal growth. They help you to change YOUR world, unlock your potential and help you to grow by increasing your self-awareness. The people you choose to model and take advice from actually help shape the person you become. They help you to be yourself and not a distorted image of them.

5.    Cares about you and your success. If your mentor doesn’t care about you, then the relationship will fail. I was once mentored by a selfish person who was only out to satisfy his own agenda: money and perceived power. Good mentors have a high level of emotional awareness and support you from the head and the heart. They offer friendship and guidance in an unselfish way. Your mentor always sees you in your highest light and works to help you reach your true potential. They are accessible and available to support you.

The greatest learning influences in my life are my mentors, people who I model and take advice from. They have helped to shape me to become the person I am today. I’m honored and blessed to have them in my life.

A good mentor will make a huge difference to you personally and professionally… You can also pay it forward by becoming a mentor to others.

 

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