Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with a mentor.  He’s an organizational leader who’s in his mid-60s and has seen and lived the highest of highs and lowest of lows.  

It had been longer than normal between connections and so before leaving to drive across the state, I texted and just let him know ahead of time that I was coming in with a weary leadership heart and mind.  I couldn’t exactly put my finger on the cause or solution but was really looking forward to our time.  

After having lunch and spending the afternoon together, I got back in my car and took the time to jot down a few notes.  While I had lots of things to think about, the overarching sentiment was, “that was incredibly helpful, encouraging and boy do I need to do this more often.”  

In reflecting on our time, it seemed worthwhile to not only convey the importance of every leader having a mentor, but in particular to highlight five key attributes in selecting one.

  • They’re secure in their identity – as a leader, the last thing you need is another person who’s looking for their own value and validation through spending time with you.  We need mentors who are secure in who they are and what they’ve done well and not so well.  Most leaders are subconsciously asked to be “the rock” throughout most of life.  This is a dedicated time to lean on someone else for added strength and wisdom.  
  • They believe in you – mentors are not looking at the relationship as a way to check a “pay it forward” box or fulfill a duty.  The best mentors are as excited about what you’re doing and see it as being a part of what they’re invested in.  They view their time with you, not as a sacrifice but an investment.    
  • They show up – this one is foundational and goes without saying;  if scheduling is extremely difficult and the connection time is often getting moved around and punted, it’s going to be incredibly difficult.  Yes, we want as many of the (5) attributes as we can and yet this one is mission-critical. Without it,  it’s impossible for any mentor to fulfill the other (4)- they must be willing to carve out the time and show up.
  • They ask great questions – to probe and deepen their understanding of your inner and outer world context – context is so important.  Whether it relates to fear, anxiety, control, relationships or business, staff, operations, strategy, opportunity or cash flow, it’s super helpful for the wisdom and advice to be tailored to the season and situation. 
  • They bring you energy and hope – this one is HUGE.  Whether you connect on the phone or in person, it’s incredibly important that you leave with more energy and hope than before you spent time together.  If you feel wearier or discouraged after the fact, we’ve missed the boat.

I cannot stress enough the importance of finding, side-by-siding and appreciating coaches and mentors who help bring courage, hope, and direction along the way. 

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Josh Block

Josh Block

Josh Block is a Michigan native, husband, father of two, speaker, company president, and leadership advocate. He believes that healthy leaders, thriving teams and fulfilling work carry remarkable power to transform people and families.

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