Going From Leadership To Mentorship: Taking The Step Toward Deliberate Training of Others
Updated: Jul 26, 2018
Joe was an "amazing leader." He was Type A, assertive, and, wow, he could cast vision! When Joe was there, people felt confident. When Joe set the course for the project, the team knew what to do. If someone came up short on their part of the project, Joe was the one who took up the slack. If it weren't for Joe, it wouldn't have gotten done. Go Joe!
But Joe left. And...well, things just weren't the same, because no one else was that good. And...it turns out that Joe wasn't really that good. Regarding leadership, he was just Average Joe. Joe led, but he didn't train. He was not a mentor.
"There is a HUGE difference in leading projects and leading people."
I suggest here that if you choose to train those whom you have the privileged of leading, you are actually making better use of everyone's time and of your employer's money.
Multiplication is a cool mathematical concept, especially when it compounds. This applies to leadership. If you, as a leader, train others who can train others, then you are setting a course unlike Joe did, and you are creating leaders. There is a HUGE difference in leading projects and leading people.
3 Lousy Excuses That Keep Us From Training Others
What keeps you from training when you lead? I'll break it down into a quick 3: Time, Fear, and Selfishness.
LOUSY EXCUSE #1: Time Constraints Keep Me From Having The Time To Train Others
Time is precious, but that is one of the reason why you actually take the time to train other people. The excuse can sound like this: "I am so busy with the project (which no one in this organization knows how to do, by the way), that I do not have the time to train others here. I don't have time to explain it."
Let's step back, and observe the obvious. You are one person. Let's imagine that your team is made of 10 people. Assuming each daily task takes twice as long if you are training 1 other person, then, in 10 days, you personally have only done 5 days of work. This sounds slower. But if you train one person a day who's efficiency increased by just 25% as a result of the training, then.....
This is getting boring. I'll stop the math.
You are often saving time when you are training others!
"We're special, but maybe we're not as 'Trade Secrety' as we might think."
LOUSY EXCUSE #2: If I Train Others, Then They Will Know My "Trade Secrets"
I'm just going to say it here. We're special, but maybe we're not as "Trade Secrety" as we might think. Plus, if we do a good job of hiring people of integrity, this "problem" can resolve itself.
Regardless, it is your trade secrets that can benefit your company (Refer to Lousy Excuse #1), and ... life is short. Go big or...well, just go big!
LOUSY EXCUSE #3: I Don't Care Enough To Train People
Does this one go under the classification of selfishness? I certainly have to deal with my own temptations of selfishness on a day-to-day basis, so don't feel alone.
BUT, people matter. Their well-being matters. Helping them matters. Training them matters. Their kids matter. Their sick Grandmom who they are helping to financially support matters.
OK, So, How Do I Train While I Lead?
That's a great question. I'm glad I asked it!:) I actually don't entirely know the answer. Maybe you can comment on this article, and help me fill in this section a bit. I'll give it a start.
"...would it be frowned upon if you "wasted" an additional 10% of time, because you were INTENTIONALLY training the staff..."
Talk While You Work:
Not to be confused with whistling while you work. I was recently helping another project leader adapt to some "change orders" that were coming at the marketing project. I took the time to press pause on the marketing discussion, and I provided about 2 minutes of explanation of what was happening in my head. "Here is what the change order looks like (drawing on white board). Here is what you guys have already done (more drawing on the white board)! Now, I advise you to take some pieces of what you've already done and see if they fit into this new framework of the change order." Honestly, my idea didn't work! But, the important thing is that I was speaking my thoughts out loud to show them how to think, not just what to think.
What do you (the reader) think? Am I (as we said growing up in the South) barking up the right tree?
Be Done With False Humility:
Its one thing to truly be humble. That's good. Its something completely different and false to act "humble" when you really have something to offer (train) in a situation as a leader. Take the opportunities to humbly submit to your team what you have learned, and then be humble enough to learn from the team.
Fostering a Deliberate Cultural Shift:
Your organization can be a training-organization if training, teaching (not long lectures, please), and equipping becomes an as-the-opportunity-arises norm. In your organization, would it be frowned upon if you "wasted" an additional 10% of time, because you were INTENTIONALLY training the staff. This "waste" is a major investment in my book
The Potential For An Epic Finish
What if, when you leave a role or position, the people working around you are equipped with the skills that only you had which you first arrived? In your role, it could sound something like, "This is what I have to offer, what I have learned. Now its yours! I give it to you. Run with it!"
As we consider here how we can be better leaders, let's be nice to Joe. Maybe Joe didn't know it would be OK to train while he led. Maybe Joe took a job where he finally had the freedom to mentor people. Maybe Joe is not so average anymore! Go Joe!
Kind regards from the other side of the pond,