This past weekend, Dr. William Snow, another author here at The Leadership Center (full disclosure, he is also my father!), received the 2016 Outstanding Mentor Award from WACES (www.waces.org). If you ask him, he will tell you he is humbled and honored to receive the nomination and award, being recognized for his contributions to the betterment and success of his peers, students, and others around him.
So, what does it take to become an award winning mentor?
In the 18 page nomination you will find phrases like, “Dr. Snow has sparked a light inside of me”, “Seeing the passion that Dr. Snow has”, “endless mental and emotional support.”, “I am always able to reach out to him…thank you for believing in me”, “He went out of his way”, “Dr. Snow made me feel at ease and alleviated my anxiety”, “Dr. Snow consistently and continuously makes himself available”, “he remembered my name”, “It’s hard to describe (interaction with Dr. Snow), but it’s the feeling you get when you experience a role model without knowing it.”, and “Time after time, he astounds me with his wisdom in finding creative solutions to the problems I brought to him.”
You will also find words like compassion, passion, genuine, engaged, grace (second chances), helpful, supportive, generous, wisdom, gentle, kind, encouraging, patient, understanding, respect, positive, responsive, role model, inspiration, and creative.
These characteristics are common to everyone. The key is to learn to employ them at the right time, in the right manner, in a way that inspires others. This, my friends, is the challenge, and when developed and cultivated successfully (to help others), may just result in your ability to truly mentor others. It is up to you, the leader, to find these qualities within you, or learn to embody them, to inspire, support, and motivate others in a passionate, gentle, and patient manner to achieve their goals.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I will touch on various aspects of mentoring. I look forward to this journey with you, as we dive deeper into the joys of mentoring.
Jared W. Snow
Confusing achievement with activity
Do you work in a corporate, non-profit, or small business office, spending countless hours hammering away at your keyboard sending emails or building presentations and talking to clients and co-workers, wondering where the day went? Busyness makes the day go by pretty quickly, but what does it produce? You see, producing is different than being busy. As leaders, we often get lost in the idea of producing and simply become busy. We lose focus and confuse achievement with activity.
Being busy during the day, such as sending those emails and building presentations, while important in many instances, simply occupies a lot of our (precious) time, and we end up focusing our efforts on the less important things. I know I have done it, delayed the one-on-one meeting with a peer or subordinate because I have an “important” presentation due. Truthfully, the presentation could be completed in half the time if done with intention and focus.
The reality is, the more time you give to accomplish something, the more time it will take to complete it. Think about an assignment in college, or a presentation for work. You have known about it for weeks, yet you wait until the last minute to start and complete it at the last second, so it took you the entire time allowed to finish. If the same assignment or presentation were due in 5 days, it would only take 5 days and not several weeks because you are not willing to fail. Make sense?
How does this affect how I lead others? Confusing achievement with activity…
How to focus on achievement and not activity.
Remember, achievement is a result of meeting a goal or producing a product on time. Activity is simply busyness. Don’t confuse achieving with being busy.
Jared W. Snow
Leading people or teams that want to be led is much easier than leading a team that would rather not. This makes perfect sense and is likely not a surprise for anyone. The question, and challenge, is how do you motivate a team to accomplish a task that they would rather not do. How do you get someone to complete a project that they could care less about? A leader must motivate and inspire and provide task and purpose.
Motivation is the force that gets you going – the carrot or the stick. For some, being a member of a team is motivation enough. Others need a bonus, raise, or praise (the carrot) while some need the fear of demotion, losing a bonus or even their job (the sick). As the leader, you need to find what motivates your team members and get them going. Each team member is different and needs different motivation. Some are self-motivated, some need the carrot, and some need the stick.
Inspiration may be synonymous to motivation in many cases, but when it comes to leading, they are different. Motivation may become inspiration if done correctly; however, inspiration focuses on energizing the individual or team to achieve or exceed their potential, and becomes a part of who they are. Motivation is the carrot or stick, whereas inspiration becomes the innate desire to succeed. A motivated individual will accomplish a task as quickly as possible to get home and watch the game while an inspired individual will strive for better results.
Task and purpose.
Task and purpose must go together. Always. A task in and of itself is meaningless without purpose. Have you ever been assigned the task of producing a report knowing (or thinking) that nobody will read it? How does that make you feel? I have had my fair share of such tasks, often asking myself “why am I even doing this?” Would it change if you thought someone would read it or if you knew why you were completing it? Have you ever assigned someone a task without providing purpose? Try telling them why the seemingly meaningless task is so important and that you actually do need it. Show your team how important it is that the task is completed. What if the report isn’t really that important? What if the task really is meaningless? Then you may want to stop the report or task and focus your teams’ energy on something that is more valuable.
Motivate your team and inspire them to succeed more. Provide clear task and purpose. When you do, step back and see what they will do. You may just be amazed.
Jared W. Snow