Ian and Sandra ( I have changed the names) came along to one of my projects. A middle aged couple who wanted to get involved in a project for young people we were setting up. They were lovely people with lots of energy and gifts. They became leaders in the drama group. They were leaders in a positional sense – but they also embraced the principles of mentor leadership and also became leaders in a relational sense as well. Sandra and Ian were people whose desire in everything they did was to make others better. In my view this is a more accurate measure of success then any thing else. It is also the defining characteristic of a mentor leader.
Mentor leadership is about accomplishment with significance. If leadership is always focused on personal accomplishment at any cost, then ultimately it will prove to be meaningless with no lasting value. Mentoring leaders define success in a much more robust and well-rounded way.
Over the years in business and in the charity sector I have worked at various levels of leadership, being a small team leader at one stage in my career, as a general manager and as a project manager. I have found that shortsighted leadership focuses primarily on the bottom line. Quarterly profits and sales targets. Not that these things are not important, they are, very important. The key to greater sales and profits is motivated and trained people who feel valued. That is mentor leadership. Good outcomes delivered by motivated people.
For mentor leaders, relationships are ultimately what matter, our relationship with ourselves and with others. The attitude to becoming an effective mentor leader is how can I serve others and care for myself?
What can I do to make other people better so they, and the organisation will flourish?
In my leadership and life in general I have tried to live by four core values that all mentor leaders should embody; educating, enabling, engagement and encouragement
Let me explain. By being mentor leaders our primary focus is on educating our people, enabling them to engage with their roles and with other people, encouraging people whenever it is appropriate, seeing potential in the people we lead and striving to develop it.
Consequently as mentor leaders we are building significance into the lives of those we lead, building leaders for the next generation. We begin to develop leaders who will one day take our place. Building future mentor leaders who are educated, enabled, engaged and focused encouragers. Creating a legacy of real value.
Identifying and nurturing future mentor leaders in our organisations is a large aspect of creating sustainability. As too, is creating a mentoring culture that will live on through succeeding generations.