There are crises you encounter in life, where you need a non-flattering mentor to speak the hard things. You receive his words because that mentor has established enough credibility and vested interest to confront you without breaking the relationship. You know he has your best interest at heart. Many times we allow unqualified people to flippantly speak into our lives. Relationship qualifies a mentor to speak into your life in critical times.
Not everybody has a right to confront you. Not everybody has a right to speak into your future. During crisis, you need a mentor as an anchor. If you don’t have a mentor – someone you can trust, someone who can stand as a road rail between you and cliff edge – you are in trouble. As a leader you will face mind-numbing crises. It maybe moral failure. It may be challenges about life. Challenges about where to go from here. It may be complex decisions between “good” and “good” but with vastly different consequences. It may be difficult strategic decisions about your business or career. Crises are normal to life. It’s only those people who are committed to you over a period of time whom you can trust with your very life at these critical times.
Mentorship is relational. If there is no relationship you cannot really claim to be a mentor to somebody. It maybe only a minimal contact relationship. But in reality and in its full manifestation there must be a solid relationship. The relationship ensures that you listen to the person. A relationship allows vulnerability on the part of the person being nurtured as well as opening his mind to counsel.
Viewed from another perspective, mentorship provides a brain to pick on and a shoulder to cry on. It’s a push in the right direction. It is like having another set of eyes to see the world with. We see the world not as the world is, but as we are. Who I am shapes the way I see things. That’s why you notice that until you have made a choice to buy a BMW you do not notice the BMWs. The moment you buy that pink dress then you notice that almost everybody else has that pink dress. Mentorship allows you to see the world from at least two viewpoints. This widens your perspective and brings objectivity to the way you view the world. A discerning mentor benefits from the viewpoint of the person being nurtured. Wise mentors view the process as a mutual learning experience.
The objective eye of a mentor tempers the decisions you make allowing you to manage your blind spots. A mentor notices the discrepancies between your espoused values and the values you live out. These are your real life values. And he shows you the gap between who you say you are and what you are in real life. As a mentor reflects back to you who he sees you to be, you work at closing that gap. That helps in values assimilation. Integrity means an alignment between your espoused values and the ones you live out. Leaders are the embodiment of their espoused values.
Mentors provide honest feedback. A mentor looks you in the eye and says that although people are singing your praises there is this weakness in you. “Because I seek your greatest good I hold you accountable and will not let you to get away with it. I love you so much that I will not leave you the way you are. I will not pretend”. The Bible says “as iron sharpens iron, so does a man sharpen the countenance of his friend”. When everyone is faultfinding and criticizing, he shows you your strengths and successes. A mentor is so sensitive that when you are down and everybody is criticizing, he holds up and reflects to you your successes. He affirms you and thus brings balance.
Mentors teach emerging leaders to value knowledge. When a mentor acquires knowledge he is keen to pass it on to others. These are people who read a book and say, “I read this book and think it would be useful to you”. They are releasing information and resources to you. A mentor is a source of information who gives books, CDs, DVDs to his charge.
Mentors provide wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. A mentor applies the truth of the gospel or principles to life in a way that works and makes sense. Tolias was a zealous church pastor who almost destroyed his marriage through neglect as he focused on church work. His wife became bitter and resented the church. She was contemplating divorce. Due to these difficult marital challenges Tolias almost compromised his marital vows. After much prayer and discussion I counselled him to close down the church and focus on his family. When the church closed down I had an appointment with Tolias’ wife who narrated a harrowing tale of neglect and a sense of frustration. I met the former pastor and assisted him in handling the crisis. A year later I relocated but kept contact by e-mail. After about three years of languishing in the wilderness and working at his family issues, he made an international call to inform me that his marriage had been fully restored. In fact he was calling to let me know that his wife had proposed that they move their family some 800 km and be involved again in ministry. The application of wisdom saved his marriage and restored his ministry. Zeal puts career and ministry ahead of family. And yet the biblical record states that faithfulness in marriage and family qualifies a man for church leadership. How we often commit the error of transposition!
A mentor is not only a mirror but also a commentator. He provides a mirror for you to see who you are and then commends on it. Mentors provide an informed point of view. I see people seeking counsel from people who are ignorant about the context within which they are operating. Often people like that are looking for someone to endorse and justify what they have already set out to do. They do not want to go to people who know the context – who can give informed counsel. A mentor has to be someone who understands your business, or the context in which you are operating and can speak from an informed position. A corollary is that informed counsel will only be available if the mentor has been provided with true and accurate facts. Sometimes a mentor may need to seek confirming evidence to the story of the emerging champion before providing counsel.
Sam was a young man I had helped deal with past moral failures. Some four years after his rehabilitation, he called to inform me that he was facing charges of sodomy. He claimed that these charges were malicious and false. I was concerned because of the precedence of previous moral failure. I did not know whether to believe his assurances or not. I suspended judgement and told him that I would call him later. Since he was in another town, I called his pastor and discussed the issue with him. After some investigations I concluded that indeed this was a frivolous allegation. I called Sam a day later and informed him that I had done some background check on the facts and believed him. Initially he was incensed that I did not believe him and had to investigate issues. However I believe that to be able to give informed counsel to an emerging leader I need to be correctly informed and convinced of his situation. I supported him through a five month court case and gave counsel on how to handle the situation at work during that time. Eventually it was proven in court that the accuser was an extortionist whom he had refused to give in to. I have learned from previous mistakes that it is important to give informed counsel. Investigate the issues if possible. Do not be quick to provide comfort, support and counsel. You can easily become a partaker in another man’s sin. Get the facts. It is right and good for you and your mentoring partner. Get the facts right before you offer counsel.
Mentors can be viewed as coaches preparing their protégé to win the battles of life. They act as sounding boards providing the emerging leader with an opportunity to test ideas and intuitions before they become agendas and attitude. One of my fundamental principles is that once it appears to me that someone asking for counsel is already committed to a certain course, then I withhold counsel. Counsel should be sought before an emotional commitment to a certain course of action. Otherwise the protégé is no longer open to counsel.
Mentors nurture curiosity. They are door openers not door closers. There are some people who always close the door in your face. You say I want to do this, they say it won’t work. You say I am thinking of this, they say it won’t work. But mentors are possibility and option thinkers. They challenge you to explore the unexplored. They expand your imagination, rather than stifle it. Mentors learn to ask great questions.
In Africa one of the major challenges is that of succession planning. There is so much controversy around it. Despite the fact that the well known dictum clearly states – there is no success without a successor, many churches, business and political organisations still leave the issue of succession to chance. However leaders who are concerned about leaving a legacy will not allow the important matter of who carries on the baton and takes over their mantle to chance or political infighting. These leaders deliberately create a leadership pipeline that has intentionally mentored and groomed people who can easily fill in the shoes of the leader if he departs the scene.
Many on the African continent prefer to have the decision of who succeeds them to be settled after their death. Unfortunately it means you cannot help shape the person who should be perpetuating your legacy. In businesses if the leader recruits from outside it means he is admitting to leadership failure. He is conceding to the fact that as a leader he failed in one of the primary functions of a leader which is developing other leaders. A new comer from the outside is likely to change things and nullify a lot of what this predecessor has done. He has no commitment to continuing the legacy of his predecessor. Whereas a protégé will build upon the foundation laid by his mentor. This is how legacy is perpetuated. Leaders do not leave your ;legacy to chance. You can mentor and raise up your successors so that they continue to build on what you have done. This allows for trans-generational impact.
A purposeful leader will deliberately take some young generation candidates and mentor them so that they can easily fill in the top post once the leader is gone. The other issue is that ideally succession should happen while the primary leader is still alive so that he can act as elder statesmen and counselor to the next generation. In both business and politics this assures that the elder statesmen will be able to provide a steadying hand to the new leader as he learns how to run the show. It is therefore negligent of a leader to allow chance to produce his successor. Mentorship therefore allows for a smoother transition of power.
Mentorship allows a leader to pass on his values, philosophy and worldview to the person that he is mentoring. By passing on these the leader ensures that his values and philosophy will live on in the organization.
The Bible records numerous successions which went on well due to mentorship. Examples are Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua, Abraham mentored Isaac, Samuel mentored David, Paul mentored Timothy etc. A classic modern day business example is Jack Welch who mentored about three potential successors. Although only one was chosen to lead GE, the other two both went on to become powerful CEO in other organizations.
It is clear that we need to intentionally mentor and raise the next generation of leaders to allow for smoother transitions as well as longer lasting impact. A mentored successor will have assimilated the organizational culture and therefore is unlikely to change it radically. I would encourage introducing new leaders from the outside if the organization is failing and new ideas are needed. If the organization is well run and doing well i.e. if the leader was successful, then he should allow the transition to happen from inside.
If yor succession is well planned and potential succesors are mentored to prolongs your leadership influence.
John joined this vital and vibrant church. He felt refreshed during the worship experience. He loved the teachings. He felt God while within the church service. However after the service he felt like an intruder. Coming from an unchurched background, he could not understand the language and the unspoken values of the church. When he tried talking to people he seemed to always violate some unwritten rule of the church. He just did not feel like he belonged. After a few months of being lonely within a crowd, he left the church.
Organisations can easily become too exclusive and inward looking because by nature people tend to lock out those who are new or different. Organisational culture can serve as a deterrent to new members. In business lingo a strong organizational culture may serve as an entry barrier. Introduce a new person to a business and suddenly he feels out of place while the insiders of the organization are also uncomfortable with the stranger. Once the stranger arrives, conversations change and become measured.
Mentorship is a powerful tool to allow a new comer to be inducted into an organization whether it is a church, a business or just a social club. By creating mentorship relationships with new comers it allows them a soft landing into the new environment. The organizational mentor will explain the idiosyncracies of the organization, will answer questions that are embarrassing to ask publicly, will help the new comer to adjust and be accepted by the others. The mentor can help with enculturation by helping the new comer to assimilate and internalise the culture of the organization. Organisational mentors will assist the newcomer to navigate the murky waters of organizational politics. An organizational mentor will introduce the new person into newer relationships thereby widening his circle of friends.
I remember joining a new organization where during social outings I would spend more time to myself because the organization seemed full of cliques and I could not tell whether I was welcome into any of them. Any attempt to speak to some of the veterans, brought embarrassment as I could not be sure whether I was welcome into the closed clique. It appeared like I was disturbing a certain level of intimacy that had developed within the group. Could I be trusted? I was beginning to consider myself a misfit within the organization when one of the leaders took me under his wings and introduced me to people. Once I had the cover of this leader, I was now accepted into the fraternity. The mentor walked me through the formal and informal power centres within the organization. This greatly helped my assimilation and induction.
It is therefore critical to ensure some form of organizational induction through a “buddy” to new comers. Churches and organizations lose people who are interested in their cause due to lack of proper induction. Mentorship can and will help reduce this loss. It leads to retention of members. It has been proven that a key to retention of members within an organisation is a strong network of informal social relationships. Mentorshipsbuilds a strong web of informal relationships which help produce a sense of identity and belonging.
Churches and businesses could mobilise, deploy and retain new skills faster and longer through organisational mentorship.
Mentoring is a developmental process that enables the mentor to increase his influence beyond his own geographical and generational location. It enables the creation of a lasting legacy. It increases the mentor’s footprint. “Source: Nurturing Champions”
Many leaders resent the time required to mentor people because they feel that mentorship only benefits the protege. This is one sided and erroneous view of mentorship. Mentors increase their influence (- and therefore their leadership reach) by mentoring others. A mentor shapes the value system, thought process and world view of his protege. In this way the mentor is able to influence -(and since leadership can be defined as influence) – people who are beyond his geographical reach. For example I mentored a young man who is now ministering in Australia – since he still cherishes the values that I taught him, I am influencing people in Australia without ever getting there. Therefore mentorship extends my leadership reach and influence past my current location.
One of my mentors has gone on to be with the Lord, but because my decision making process is still shaped by his influence, it follows that his leadership has transcended his generational reach. The people I mentor will be influenced by my mentor though they have never met him. Mentorship helps the mentor pass on his values to the next generation.
Mentorship uses a principle of leverage to increase and multiply a leader’s leadership influence. It helps mentors perpetuate their legacies by touching and influencing the next generation’s influencers. I deliberately and intentionally choose to mentor others in order to increase my influence.
In satellite technology the area covered by a satellite’s reach is called its footprint. In mentorship the extent of your influence — what others may call your circle of influence – is the extent of your leadership footprint. Is your footprint limited to your physical reach? If so you can increase it through mentorship.
One of my mentors is Prof Don Mitchell who supervised my doctoral studies with Rushmore Online University. We have never met but his influence is evident in my life. Prof Mitchell has impacted so many people whom he has never met. His footprint is quite large.
The benefits of mentorship to the protege are well known. They are also detailed in my book Nurturing Champions.
I therefore argue that mentorship benefits both the mentor and protege.
I define mentorship as a dynamic relational experience of trust that enables a mature person to nurture, train and empower another person to grow into his destiny by sharing God-given resources. Source: Nurturing Champions.
The critical aspects are that mentors release their God given resources e.g. their time, occasionally their finances, wisdom and network of relationships to facilitate another person’s dream. In other words mentorship is not cheap labour whereby the mentor uses the protege (or mentee) for the fulfilment of the mentor’s dream. Mentorship is the other-person focused.
Mentorship involves nurturing and empowering the other person. It stands to reason therefore that true mentorship will result in an empowered protege who is not dependent on the mentors but who can think and express his/her own opinion confidently. A well mentored person should be able to move on past the mentoring relationship on his own and tackle life alone. He does not have to be eternally dependent on the mentor. As a matter of fact the relationship can transition from being mentor-protege to being peers and colleagues on an equal status.
Mentorship is a dynamic relationship which does not have set a formula but is dependent on the parties involved, their personalities and time and resource constraints. It follows that a mentor does not relate to all his/her proteges in the same way. Each mentoring relationship is tailored to suit the individuals involved.
The mentoring relationship is an experience for both the mentor and mentee. It is a relational issue with all the underlying dynamics to relationships requiring consideration. It cannot be a transactional experience where the protege seeks to get what he wants with no obligation to a relationship.
It is a relationship based on trust. Trust and confidentiality are critical for a beneficial mentoring relationship. Neither the mentor nor the protege should abuse information shared in confidence. Trust is earned and therefore this takes time.The strength of the relationship enables the training and empowerment of the protege.
Mentorship allows both the mentor and protege to grow as they learn from each other. It is a developmental process. Mentorship in the new economy does not include the “download” syndrome where the mentor is the source of all wisdom who downloads to an empty head of a protege which is ready to be filled. But mentorship is a an interactive learning and growth process for both mentor and protege. The mentor then serves as chief learner in the process.
By the word mature person in our definition we are not referring to age but to experience in the sphere of mentorship. In other words a younger person who is more experienced can mentor an older person. For example my 12year old daughter Faith, introduced me to and mentored me concerning the workings of Facebook as a social networking tool.
Pursue mentoring relationships for growth and impact.
Nurturing Champions Blog is a place where Rapha Trust and its founder Dr T. A. Makoni will seek to hasten champions along the way by nurturing and empowering them. Welcome to the training ground of champions.
A young cub though it has all the potential to become the King of the Jungle is vulnerable when newly born, it therefore needs to be nurtured and protected until it is well groomed and well trained to go tackle the jungles alone.
Nurturing Champion Blog is a place for champions to be recognized, trained and nurtured to fulfill their God given dream and pursue their destiny. Its a place for the release of potential. Its the place to learn to roar. Its a place of watering your dreams to fruition.
I encourage you to engage in dialogue as we pursue the call and destiny of God upon our lives.
Check out our recent books: Nurturing Champions – a manual on mentorship and Entrepreneurship On Trial – a manual for entrepreneurs in the developing world from http://www.lulu.com