During my coaching career, I always talked to my players about doing the right thing the right way. I wasn’t always certain I was getting through to some of the guys, including defensive end Regan Upshaw, who was known for his colorful personality. Years later, my family and I ran into Regan and his family when we all happened to be vacationing in Rome. After we had spoken for a few minutes, Regan told me that all the things I had tried to teach him about life were finally making sense. It may take time before the results of our leadership are fully known. Our talents and our treasures may pay dividends so far down the road we may never see the outcome. But with the faith that comes from doing the right thing at the right time in the right way, the mentor leader knows that the payoff will be great—and possibly eternal.
Every leader speaks of his or her own vision, but mentor leaders keep their eyes focused well downfield, understanding that many of the most significant moments and effects of their lives will happen outside of the public eye—possibly even outside of their own field of vision. In other words, they may never know the full impact of their leadership.
Here are 8 questions to ask yourself about how you are influencing people around you:
1. Evaluate your integrity: Are your actions consistent with your words?
2. Evaluate your impact: Are you making lives better?
3. Evaluate your perspective: Do you see people as central to the mission of your organization? Or do you see them simply as the mean- the fuel- to get your organization from here to there?
4. Evaluate your goals: Are you building relationships, or are you building a tower to climb to the top?
5. Mentor leaders see the opportunity to interact with people- and to build into their lives along the way- as part of the journey itself. How are you looking for ways to directly engage with and influence people?
6. How does your leadership style need to change so that people will flourish and grow around you?
7. You can lead from a position of authority, but the most effective leaders lead as they build relationships of influence. What can you do to move from an authority-based model to an influence-based model?
8. Identify one person whom you can begin to mentor. Don’t look too far or hard. The opportunity is right in front of you- at work, in your family, or with a friend.