It’s easy to find a lot of talk about mentoring; being a mentor, using a mentor, and growing from mentorship. One of my most popular posts was about being a stepping stone.
Mentors come in many varieties. Anyone who’s been through some form of higher learning has probably been influenced by a teacher or professor. You may remember a magical mentor inspired you to think differently or be different. To this day, I owe much of my passion for writing to my senior English teacher from high school.
Dr. William Hendricks, a well respected professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was once asked what his greatest fear may be. His response shocked the audience. Again, keep in mind, he was one of the most highly regarded faculty members there.
His answer was “To present and teach my best material, but no one learns.” Let that sink in a minute.
Here’s a well respected professor who had people clamoring to attend his lectures. His fear was teaching and no one learns.
What did he mean by that? He meant having an audience that was somehow closed to learning.
When I first heard this, I was struck by the significance of being a student or mentee and not being receptive to the teaching that is being offered.
Why would anyone do that? Well, it’s simple. There are those among us who go into a learning situation believing they already have all the answers. They are convinced there is nothing new to learn.
Whether it comes from pride or futility, the idea that you might sit with a mentor and ignore the teaching is insanity!
Have you ever known anyone like that? You know, someone who insists they know it all. They just want to sit in the class or in the program because the completion certificate somehow elevates them to the next level. The mindset that you can pass a course without being impacted by it is just plain crazy. What a waste of everyone’s time and talent.
The best leaders I have ever known knew what is was to be a follower first. Once you master following, then you are qualified to become a leader. This is a key concept that fails many would-be managers.
The lure of the power of the position trips them up. Rather than seeking more knowledge and better practices to follow, they immerse themselves in the role without ever learning what it may mean to be a leader.
I encourage you to find mentorship. Once the opportunity is open, dive in wholeheartedly. Absorb everything you can from the one who offers to mentor and coach you.
Then and only then can you earn the title of manager and leader.