In studying The Law of Modeling, chapter 13 of The 15 invaluable Laws of Growth, with a very dynamic group of leaders, discussion circled around finding the right mentors to look to for answers to specific questions. We discussed how there is often a need for more than one mentor; possibly several mentors, each having a certain expertise. This provides you with access to the right people to ask questions, rather than just one person that you hold responsible for giving you the right answers…
One of the folks in the group commented that a good mentor will often ask YOU the right questions so you can find the answers you’re looking for. While this isn’t always associated with a mentoring relationship, that’s exactly what an effective COACHING relationship is based on. I’m certainly not suggesting that a mentor couldn’t, or shouldn’t ask questions that require us to think deeply into a situation. However, a high-level coach is trained to do just that. The core thought process in coaching is that we already have the answers within us, we’re just not consciously aware of those answers.
Now whether you agree with this or not, the statement alone provokes a deep degree of thought… I don’t know that I necessarily bought into this idea at first. Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to be coached by a few different professional coaches. What I’ve found most effective hasn’t been anything magical; they’ve just challenged me to think through my own ideas at a much deeper level than I likely would have on my own. They’ve each done this by asking me some tough questions around topics that I’ve picked, each being things I was currently working through… And each answer I came up with ended up being something I could commit to applying.
Don’t get me wrong, there are often times that I go directly to a mentor for advice on how they’ve handled a situation that I’m facing. In some cases, I may not have time to figure it out on my own. In others, it may just not be an area that I’m strong enough in to find a good solution. There are certainly good reasons to have both styles in place!
With those two very different examples in mind, can you think of relationships where you could apply either, or both, of these styles to make a bigger impact on the people you lead? As John says at the beginning of The Law of Modeling, “The most important personal growth phrase you will ever hear a good leader say to you is ‘follow me’.” I don’t know of a better way of showing someone we’re worth following than to use the best tools we have in helping them grow!