This Is Where Most Leaders Fail
This Is Where Most Leaders Fail
“…shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:1-4
Football is a big part of our family’s life; hence it often provides us with leadership and life lessons.
After the recent NFL draft event in which the best college players get drafted by professional NFL teams, a news headline grabbed my attention. It screamed: “leadership lesson!”
The headline read: “Big Ben Won’t Mentor Rudolph, Surprised by Pick.”
Big Ben is a veteran quarterback (QB), one of the best in the league. When asked about the recent draft pick his team made (they drafted a young QB), Big Ben expressed his disappointment and said this about the opportunity to mentor and groom this young up-and-coming player: "If he asks me a question, I might just have to point to the playbook."
We won’t read too much into Big Ben’s intentions or motives, but one thing was very obvious: Big Ben, an accomplished and well-respected quarterback, made it clear that, for whatever reason, he will not embrace the opportunity to mentor a younger, inexperienced teammate.
The reason why this story caught my attention is that Big Ben is not alone. I would argue that the majority of leaders fail at mentoring and training up the next generation. Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you intentionally mentored and invested valuable time into someone on your team. Or think about the last time someone intentionally invested time and mentored you at work, showing you all the ropes, passing on valuable information and insights so you could grow.
Single Most Expensive Mistake Leader Can Make
Recently Gallup took a comprehensive look at performance management and concluded that failing to develop other leaders is the single most expensive mistake any leader can make.
Gallup's research suggests that today’s top talent does not want a boss, they want a coach. "Performance management" must be transformed into "performance development"—an approach that focuses on growing leaders, not just keeping employees accountable.
Jesus: Greatest Performance Coach
We don’t have to look far to find a leader who was committed to growing, mentoring and empowering His team. This leader was Jesus. Jesus not only invested much time into the lives of His disciples, but He also adapted His leadership style appropriately as His disciples developed individually and as a group.
When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, He pledged them His full support and guidance as they became fishers of men.
If we want our leadership to have impact, we must embrace mentoring as a priority and not as an afterthought.
Why Leaders Don’t Mentor
Let’s look at key reasons why leaders choose not to mentor the next generation:
Lack of Time
“I’m too busy.” “I just don’t have enough time.” “I’ve got so much on my plate.” Because the tyranny of the urgent takes priority, leaders often feel that mentoring and investing time in others just has to wait. Unless leaders begin to recognize the value of mentoring and prioritize it, lack of time will always be a convenient excuse.
Mentoring others means that sooner or later a leader will have to release control and let others do certain tasks. Our desire for control (which many of us would deny is there) is one reason we choose not to mentor, empower and delegate.
Losing the Spotlight
When we’re the one running the ship, the spotlight is on us. By mentoring and empowering others, we are making a statement that we are willing to share the spotlight, that we welcome someone else’s brilliance, creativity and solutions.
I’m The Only One Who Can Do This
As a parent I catch myself doing things for my boys (like cleaning their bathroom) because I can do it better! Leaders often have the same mindset when it comes to the workplace. This mindset stifles the leaders, their employees and the entire organization.
Fear of Losing Relevance
Once we allow fear to infiltrate our leadership, it’s very hard to lead past our fears. Fear of losing relevance and not being as needed as before is real and understandable. Leadership has various seasons, and mentoring, encouraging, empowering and cheering on those that will follow in our footsteps is one of those seasons. Mentoring can be a leader’s most fruitful leadership season, yet fear often stops many from recognizing it.
How to Become a Leader-Mentor?
How can you extend your leadership and influence through mentoring?
Set aside times on your calendar dedicated to mentoring. Make a commitment that, unless there is a real emergency or an unexpected trip, you will prioritize mentoring on your calendar.
Impart your knowledge and experience. Take time to share stories of success and failure. Be open and transparent about what you did well and what you wish you could have done differently.
Invite your mentee to participate with you in a variety of work-related functions like board meetings, client visits and conversations with vendors or even your competitors. Watching you “do leadership” will be invaluable!
Guide and Coach
Become a confidential sounding board, and create a safe environment for others to share with you their struggles and challenges. Offer advice and wisdom as appropriate and help them discover solutions.
Motivate and Inspire
Become your mentee’s biggest cheerleader. Find ways to encourage and inspire them by suggesting books you know will be helpful or write a note of encouragement. Help your mentee discover their untapped potential and inspire them to be all that God designed them to be!
Proverbs 27:17 says: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Paul, in a letter to his mentee, Timothy, writes: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
And finally, Proverbs 9:9 tells us: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”
Mentoring the generation that comes after us is one of the greatest opportunities and privileges we have, so let’s embrace it without fear!
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