Archive for the ‘Moxie for Mentoring’ Category

I want to lead like the Executive Chairman of Marriott. What do you think?

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

“What do you think?” This mantra was cited by the last two CEOs interviewed for the “Corner Office” section in the Sunday New York Times.

J.W. Marriott Jr.

For J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., executive chairman and former CEO of Marriott International, the phrase he uses is, “What do you think we should do?”

Bill learned this from President Eisenhower. Ike was visiting one Christmas when Bill had just completed school. The adults were deciding whether to go quail hunting in the cold or to sit by the fire. Eisenhower turned to the young Marriott and asked “What do you think we should do?”

In that moment Bill recognized the President’s strategy for getting along with others and executing as a leader - by including people in his decision-making process. Marriott quickly adopted the President’s question “What do you think we should do?” to foster his own inclusive decision-making throughout his career as a leader.


Jenna Fagnan

For Jenna Fagnan, president of tequila manufacturer Tequila Avión, the question is, “So what do you think you should do?”

Fagnan learned this from one of her first mentors – her boss. Early in her career, Fagnan worked for a man who always challenged her with this question. She would go into his office and dump a situation on his lap. He would invariably ask, “So what do you think you should do?”

She realized that in those moments, her boss was wearing a mentor hat. He could have easily said, “Here’s what I think you should do.” He knew the answer, but by including her in the process, he forced her to think for herself and grow as an individual and as a leader.


Susan Docherty

Susan Docherty, the head of the US Sales, Service, and Marketing team at General Motors, shared a similar approach in her interview a few years ago in the Corner Office of the Sunday New York Times. She intentionally involves others in decisions, even when she already has an opinion and knows where she wants the decision to go. She relentlessly inquires, “What do you think? What would you do?” She is often rewarded with a fresh perspective and new insights from people who are not as close to the situation as she is.


Why does “What do you think?” work?

Because people support that which they help create. They crave control. They want to be respected and heard. And they want to make a difference.

When we dictate, mandate, and command others, people lose interest. They are not vested in the success of our decisions. They often have a different idea or perspective, but we were too busy railroading them with our decision to ask. By dictating the outcome, we, in essence, reveal that we don’t really care what they have to contribute. And by not asking, we communicate that we don’t really respect or appreciate their perspective enough to stop and listen.

Alternatively, by simply asking the question, “What do you think?” we share the decision with other people, offering them the opportunity to help create the outcome. This inevitably fuels engagement and enthusiasm, not to mention, ownership and accountability.

Ultimately, people show up every day hoping their work matters. When we stop and ask people “What do you you think?” we are communicating to them, “You matter. Your perspective is important. You can make a difference in this decision.” As leaders, this is our job.

What do you think? What would you do? I’d love to hear your perspective.

I want to be a Mentoring Leader like Ilene Gordon

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

In the Corner Office in the Business section of Sunday’s New York Times, Ilene Gordon, CEO of Ingredion, took the opportunity to pay tribute to mentoring then and now.


The Impact of a Mentor

Following business school, Ilene was responsible for acquisitions at Tenneco when a self-appointed mentor saw potential in her. He recognized her intellect, ambition, and focus, and challenged her to run those businesses she was acquiring. He put her in a job bigger than her and committed to helping her hone her business skills. Today she is on Fortune magazine’s list of 50 Most Powerful Women in Business as the President/CEO of a Fortune 500 company with $6.2 billion in net sales.


Ilene’s Commitment to Being a Mentoring CEO

Ilene excites people with opportunity as her Mentor did for her. She is committed to:

  • Seeing potential in others where they don’t see it themselves
  • Stretching people who demonstrate talent, people skills, and drive
  • Putting people into roles they’re not quite ready for
  • Allowing people to grow into those big roles
  • Offering young managers an opportunity to share with the board how they’re creating value for the company


Her Belief in the Lasting Impact of Mentoring

Ilene believes that people carry their mentoring experiences with them. “I’m not just hiring the person sitting there. I’m hiring the four people who mentored him. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s successful in their role today who hasn’t been mentored by somebody.”

In each interview, she asks:

  • Who mentored you?
  • Who did you learn from?
  • What was their expertise?
  • What companies did they work for?


What can we do to become a Mentoring Leader like Ilene?

  • Make a list of your own Mentors and acknowledge their influence on your success
  • Discover people’s list of influencers
  • Work to earn a spot on their list
  • See what they don’t see in themselves
  • Take a risk on their potential
  • Push people into their uncomfortable
  • Allow people to surprise you


It takes a true Mentoring Leader to leverage the NY Times spotlight to mentor aspiring, inspiring, and expiring leaders everywhere. Thank you, Ilene, for influencing each of us to make a difference by leading with a mentoring manner.

Ilene’s message is beautifully encapsulated in Author Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s powerful quotation:

As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.”


I Want to Lead Like Tony Tjan

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Tony Tjan is CEO of Cue Ball, a venture capital firm in Boston. When given the opportunity to be spotlighted in the Business section of the Sunday New York Times, Mr. Tjan chose to focus on his role as a mentor to others.

When a CEO showcases mentoring in an interview in the New York Times about what he considers to be good leading, we know we’ve found a winner!

For those of us wanting to lead like Mr. Tjan, he does not withhold the information. Like a mentoring boss, he shares it.


The 5 Questions

He describes 5 questions that every leader must ask as they mentor others. Inspired by Deepak Chopra and evolved by his partner, Mats Lederhausen, the framework goes as follows:

  1. What is it that you really want to be and do?
  2. What are you doing really well that is helping you get there?
  3. What are you not doing well that is preventing you from getting there?
  4. What will you do differently tomorrow to meet those challenges?
  5. How can I help, and where do you need the most help?


Let me simplify it even more:

  • Where would you like to go?
  • What’s working?
  • What’s not working?
  • How do you need to change?
  • How can I help?


Why the Questions?

By asking these questions, Mr. Tjan says it forces us to eliminate the assumptions that we naturally make about the help that people need.

The series of questions also forces us to pause and recognize that someone is sharing their dreams, not some fickle, insipid ideas to be trampled upon like weeds.


Imagine Working for a Mentoring Boss… Imagine Being One

Can you imagine working for a boss who asks you those questions? How refreshing that would make going to work! You would be working for someone who is working for you.

Now imagine being the boss who asks those questions. How energizing that would make leading! Like a superhero, we would use our powers to save someone from the depths of mediocrity.


Tony Tjan may be the exception, but let him serve as our role model mentor. Even from the pages of the New York Times, he is mentoring those of us who strive to lead exceptionally. Thank you Mr. Tjan!


Even Incredibly Simple Questions Lead to Mentoring (especially when you’re changing the world)

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

just published an article entitled “Three Incredibly Simple Questions the Most Successful People Use to Change the World” written by Mike Maddock (pictured here).

Of course I was intrigued. In this day of 140-character tweets, drive-through windows, and instant text messages, I knew the answer would be brilliant in its robust simplicity. And I was not disappointed.

3 Simple Questions to Change the World

Question Number 1: What’s the outcome I want?

Question Number 2: What stands in my way?

Questions Number 3: Who has figured it out already?

Followers vs. Leaders

The first two summarize the basic formula for success. Where do you want to go and what’s stopping you?

But the third question is my favorite – not only is it the secret ingredient to leadership, it screams mentoring.

In essence, the best leaders slow down before executing, knowing that if they learn from someone else’s execution efforts, they can forge ahead.

Followers, on the other hand, jump into action. They dive head first into the weeds to address every obstacle identified in Question Number 2.

Leaders stop before tackling those weeds. They look around to see who else has already overcome those similar obstacles. Then they learn from their mistakes instead of making identical ones.

3 Ways to Answer Question Number 3

So, how do you answer Question Number 3? How can we best determine who has figured it out already?

By engaging in 3 types of mentoring:

Role Model Mentoring

This is mentoring from afar. In Role Model Mentoring, we look to examples, idols, and protagonists to model for us how to conquer those obstacles. By observing from afar, we gain the mentoring we need to move forward.

Look for people who have gone where we want to go. We don’t even need to engage in a conversation with them – we just need to observe from afar. Just watch what they have done or have not done, what they are doing or not doing. And take copious notes. People don’t even have to be alive to serve as our role models! There are a plethora of protagonists throughout history who have already forged paths for us.

Opportunity Mentoring

This is mentoring in moments. In Opportunity Mentoring, we seek mentoring for a specific opportunity or situation. We have a decision to make, a quick problem to solve, or a challenge to tackle, and we need quick feedback, missing information, or a new perspective. A mentoring conversation will help us move forward more wisely.

Ask peers, friends, and colleagues to share their connections and resources. Explain the opportunity or situation and request a connection to someone who has been-there-dealt-with-that. Call that connection immediately and reference the referral. Ask permission for a quick mentoring conversation to fill the gap you have for advice, perspective, and wisdom. Be sure to express appreciation before parting ways and send a thank you card or email to the connection and to the connector. Then make your next move on that opportunity or situation.

Intentional Mentoring

This is mentoring through relationships. In Intentional Mentoring, we identify people who have been-there-done-that and we deliberately engage them in a relationship to learn from their experiences and consciously absorb their advice. It is purposeful conversations resulting from a cultivated and ongoing relationship. This type of mentoring sprouts from role model mentoring and opportunity mentoring.

Identify people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish and have gone where you want to go. Initiate a conversation, establish a relationship, build trust, offer value, and request advice and wisdom. What do Mentors gain? Plenty. An ego-rush, an altruism-kick, relationship, friendship, ideas, fresh perspectives, and a reinforcement of lessons learned.

Change the World Leaders

We can succinctly encapsulate Mike Maddock’s winning formula for changing the world with this simple formula: Vision + Obstacles + Mentoring. And at the end of the article, Mike unwittingly underscores the importance of mentoring in his own formula when he declares, “intelligence is learning from your own mistakes; wisdom is learning from the mistakes of

In other words, leaders progress on the shoulders of others.

That’s how mentoring mobilizes leaders.

(Here is a picture of my sweet nephew who will save the planet in some way in his daily superhero outfit – a leader in the making?)

10 Ways Mentoring Remedies the Isolated CEO

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

According to a new survey from RHR International,

  • 50% of CEOs feel isolated in their roles
  • 70% say that the isolation negatively affects their performance

Can you blame them? We put CEOs on a pedestal, we expect them to have all the answers, and then we are completely unforgiving when they don’t.

Arguably Yahoo’s CEO Carol Bartz and HP’s CEO Leo Apotheker were each fired as a result of isolation. They were not connected to the people and therefore not connected to the issues important to their organization.

Conceivably, however, CEOs are responsible for their own isolation. Sometimes they fear the appearance of favoritism or the risk of divulging confidentiality issues; other times they fear rejection for not having all the answers.

The cure for isolation? Mentoring.

Mentoring – the Cure for the Common CEO

Mentoring remedies isolation in many ways. It offers CEOs the opportunity to connect instead of hide, explore options instead of pretend to know, and promote knowledge-sharing instead of information-hoarding.

When Howard Permut, President of Metro-North Railroad in NYC, embraced their new leadership mentoring program, he enthusiastically became a Mentor. In doing so, he brilliantly accomplished 3 critical things:

(1)    He molded an up-and-coming leader by imparting his wisdom as a Mentor.

(2)    He put his finger on the pulse of the people and the organization.

(3)    He catapulted a knowledge-sharing, mentoring culture with his support and participation.

Redefining Mentoring

CEOs who shun mentoring are often caught in the trap of an old definition in which “mentoring” is laden with unrealistic expectations. When CEOs embrace a more flexible, simple definition of mentoring, everyone, including CEOs, wins.

Mentoring is simply sharing been-there-done-that wisdom with someone who wants to go-there-do-that.

Reverse Mentoring

Reverse mentoring fosters learning up and down the corporate ladder. In this form of mentoring, leaders are mentored by individual contributors. With reverse mentoring, CEOs acknowledge that it’s acceptable not to know everything, and it’s encouraged to learn from our peers at all levels.

Everyone – even the CEO – has teaching and learning opportunities.

As an example, suppose a CEO wants to discover the world of social media and explore how it could benefit the company. Any employee – even someone fresh out of college – who has spent time discovering social media can share that wisdom with the CEO and accelerate the CEO’s success in the world of social media.

10 Ways that Mentoring Impacts CEOS (and all Leaders)

  1. Ego: Our ego is fed when someone looks to us for wisdom and advice.
  2. Legacy: Leaders leave a legacy when they share wisdom with the next generation. They are making a mark on the history of their organization.
  3. Altruism: It feels good when we help others. Ultimately, we want to make a difference, and mentoring allows us to do just that.
  4. Strengthened Wisdom: We relearn our own wisdom when we impart it, which then strengthens that wisdom.
  5. Accelerated Success: The best way to stop learning things the hard way is to learn things from someone who has already learned them the hard way.
  6. Social Cognitive Theory: People watch leaders to determine how to act and behave. When leaders get involved in mentoring, their people observe them and will follow suit.
  7. Leadership: There is an unwritten expectation that leaders mentor others. Engaging in mentoring affirms your right to be a leader.
  8. Discovery: When leaders mentor others and are mentored by others, they discover new talent, new ideas, new information, new issues, and new approaches to problem solving.
  9. Knowledge-Sharing Culture: You are fostering a culture of learning and discovering. The entire organization benefits when its people share knowledge, instead of hoard it.
  10. Community. Nothing cures isolation faster than jumping into a community of people and working on a project together.

3 Easy Ways to Get Started

  1. Seek out a New Mentor Each Quarter. Think of something you want to know more about. Find someone in the company who knows about it. Spend an hour per month learning from them.
  2. Solicit a New Protégé Each Quarter. Allow people to submit a formal application to be your Protégé for a quarter. You won’t be inundated, as most are intimidated. Only the ambitious, up-and-comers will submit one, and then the application process will filter out the disingenuous.
  3. Host a Group Mentoring. Once a quarter, host a lunch for a group of 20 people to focus on an issue, a challenge, a topic, or a subject matter. Have attendees come prepared with questions and an introduction. Your community will instantly expand by 440 new connections a year!


Here’s how LifeMoxie Mentoring is Helping CEOs and Other Leaders Embrace Mentoring in 2012

1.            The 2012 Webinar Series

 We have 2 complimentary webinars in January chocked with great value!

  • Jan 18:  “Architecting a Business-Impacting Mentoring Program”
  • Jan 31:  “Metrics, Trends, and Benchmarks – Measuring the Success  of your Mentoring Initiative”
  • Apr 19:  “Mentoring, Sponsoring, and Coaching – Increasing your R.O.M. by Leveraging Every Relationship”
  • July 19:  “Mentoring Advisory Boards – Gathering Thought Leaders  to Power Your Vision”
  • Oct 25:  “From Idle to Innovative – Leveraging Mentoring to Evolve  Your Workforce”

Check out to learn more and register.

2.            The Mentoring Council launches!

Connect with mentoring leaders in organizations around the globe to discover how they are using mentoring as a strategic advantage instead of a missed opportunity. Check out for more information.


12 Ways to Celebrate National Mentoring Month

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

In 2002 Harvard School of Public Health spearheaded the effort to officially declare January “National Mentoring Month.”

Why a whole month dedicated to mentoring? Because while its impact is transformational (not just transactional), people often overlook it.

12 Ways for Leaders to Celebrate National Mentoring Month:

  1. Be a Protégé

This one is easy! Who couldn’t use a little less learning-it-the-hard-way?

  1. Be a Mentor

What’s in it for you? Simple. People solidify their wisdom by imparting it. And if that doesn’t do it for you, don’t forget the trinity: ego, legacy, and altruism. They go a long way for our motivation.

  1. Act like a leader

It is an unwritten expectation that if you want to be a leader you need to mentor others. And then add in social cognitive theory which says that people look to their leaders to determine their own actions. So mentor, be mentored, and others will follow you.

  1. Intentionally strike up mentoring conversations

Listen for opportunities to contribute your hard-won wisdom. Ask for permission to share your insights. They’ll appreciate the gift. In addition, seek out mentoring from others to accelerate your own path. They’ll appreciate the ego boost.

  1. Create a “Speed Mentoring Event”

Just like speed dating, speed mentoring brings people together to connect in a structured activity to mentor each other for 5-10 minutes and determine if they want to explore a mentoring relationship further. A fun way to launch any mentoring orientation, program, or initiative.

  1. Promote reverse mentoring

Andy Grove, founder and former CEO of Intel loved this! He dubbed people “Technical Assistants” and they taught senior executives the things they need to know to be successful, like marketing, branding, the Internet, and competition. Everyone thinks the people higher up know the most. Don’t let that assumption shortchange the wisdom and insights percolating at the bottom of the corporate ladder.

  1. Encourage peer mentoring

Need to break down silos? Need to blend cultures of two merged companies? Establish peer mentoring for people to connect cross-functionally, increase their understanding of how the company works, improve their work-effectiveness by expanding their network, and expand their community at the company.

  1. Launch group mentoring

People too busy for the commitment of 1:1 relationships? Invite them to lead or participate in a group mentoring lunch. Attendees bring their questions and the group Mentor imparts his/her wisdom. Everyone wins with the exposure and visibility this format offers.

  1. Train people how to win at mentoring

People just want to win. So show them how. Give them the training they need to be successful. At a minimum, teach them about expectations, goals, deliverables, boundaries, the 5 mentoring conversations, being a great Mentor, being a hungry Protégé, and being a supportive Manager.

  1. Thank a Mentor on January 26

January 26 is “Thank your Mentor Day.” Face it, you didn’t become a leader without some mentoring. Who shared their wisdom with you? Even unintentionally or informally? Thank them for their contributions to your success.

  1. Start your own mentoring program

Mentoring is the most cost-effective, time-efficient tool for leaders to transform people while driving organizational strategies. What kinds of strategies? Attracting talent, on-boarding, succession planning, leadership development, diversity & inclusion, productivity, effectiveness, cross-functional development, and talent/career development are just a few.

  1. Don’t let mentoring be your missed opportunity

If you don’t do anything about mentoring, it’ll happen anyway. People are mentoring each other every day, often accidentally, unintentionally, and informally. You, however, miss out on the opportunity to define it, direct it, own it, measure it, leverage it, and lead it. And this is essential if you are committed to making a difference with people and with your organization.

Dump the New Year’s Resolutions! Change Happens Only with Influence, Mentoring, and a Battle Cry

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

50% of New Year’s resolutions are broken by January 3.


Because the whole ritual is all about fixing something broken.

The most popular resolutions each year: lose weight, stop smoking, and stop spending.

Wow. That’s exciting. You can imagine how thrilled people are to bound out of bed each morning on Jan 1 and Jan 2 to stop doing the 3 things they love most: eating, smoking, and shopping! Yes, sign me up for a whole year of that, they’re thinking. By January 3, they rightly decide that it’s not working, so they give up.

People have the same visceral reaction to Performance Reviews, Performance Improvement Plans, and all other documents drafted to describe what’s wrong with them. Who wants to come running into the office to fix their weaknesses? That sounds uninspiring, dismal, and miserable.

This is the day! You are officially allowed to dump all of those inane exercises on January 3!

You may be mentally protesting. But think for a moment. Has it ever worked? Have you ever changed your behavior or someone else’s by designing a plan to fix what’s wrong with you or them?

No! So, in the words of Bob Newhart from a MadTV skit, “Stop it!”
(Check out the hilarious skit on YouTube.)

So now that you’re done flagellating, thrashing, scolding and berating yourself and others, what is left to help us create change this year?

3 powerful game-changers:

  1. Influence
  2. Mentoring
  3. The Battle Cry


You can influence change in yourself and others by understanding what makes us tick. Two major influences drive action and inaction in every human being: the need to matter and the fear of rejection. Remember only those and you’ll never need resolutions or performance reviews to make the new year a watershed year.


There is no greater tool for transformation than mentoring. One person who has been-there-done-that shares institutional, tribal knowledge with someone who wants to go-there-and-do-that. The sharing of knowledge, wisdom, and lessons learned inevitably accelerates the success of the other person.  It’s brilliant. It can be a strategic advantage to individuals, teams, and organizations. However, it is often overlooked and then becomes a missed opportunity.

The Battle Cry

If you do nothing else after you dump the New Year’s Resolutions, declare a Battle Cry for your year. What will get you excited to jump out of bed each morning? What will have you excited to run into the office to start working? What will have your team jazzed about showing up?

A battle cry is bigger than a goal, a mission, or a vision. A battle cry has goals and it aligns with missions and visions, but it’s more than those. A battle cry is the deep-seated, heartfelt, emotional reason we show up big.

Some examples of a Battle Cry:

  • * to constantly surprise and delight my boss with my contributions
  • * to make every moment with my kids a fun learning opportunity
  • * to be the company’s innovation expert
  • * to shock and awe my doctor at each visit with my great health
  • * to form partnerships with each of my colleagues and my clients
  • * to be kind without exception to everyone I meet

Without a battle cry, your resolutions and performance improvement plans are designed for demise. And without the power of influence and mentoring, your battle cries will become sad, wistful whimpers.

It’s January 3.

What resolution are you throwing out the window today?

In its place, what will be your battle cry for the year?

And how are you going to leverage influence and mentoring to drive that battle cry and make 2012 a game-changing year?

Mentoring Lessons from Elf on the Shelf

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

This season’s #1 selling book at Barnes & Noble offers some invaluable lessons for mentoring leaders.

Here’s how it works. With your purchase of Elf on the Shelf comes your own stuffed doll – The Elf – that joins your family. Your Elf sits on a shelf every day and watches over you. Then each night your Elf makes a quick visit to the North Pole to give Santa the scoop on all the good and the bad he observed that day Then he rushes back to your house, ready for the next day’s observing duties.

 Here are 5 lessons from the Elf on the Shelf that we can apply to make our own mentoring programs as popular.

1.       Set the Rules at the Beginning.

Here are the Elf on the Shelf rules. You cannot touch the Elf or he will lose his powers. The Elf arrives after Thanksgiving and leaves right after Christmas. You can talk to the Elf and share your holiday wishes, but he will not talk back to you. His job is just to listen and observe. He will leave every night to report back to Santa and when he returns he will be in a new location in your house for you to find.

Similarly in mentoring programs, people just want to know how to win. Rules of engagement do just that. Whether we are talking about the Elf or the Mentors and Protégés, when we set rules for engaging, people know how to win. Want to make your mentoring program effective? Tell people the rules at the beginning and remind them regularly.

2.       Let the Kids Name the Elf.

Every family names their Elf. This small act of participation leverages the concept of the IKEA effect. We are more attached to the ideas that we create and less attached to ideas that other people create (aka the Not-Invented-Here bias). Kids are more attached to their Elf because they participated in creating him – they named him.

Similarly in mentoring programs, people support that which they help create. Participants in your programs are more inclined to support their mentoring relationships if they participated in creating them. Give them the opportunity to choose their Mentor or Protégé from a pool and they will be more attached to them.

 3.       The Elf Triggers the Spotlight Effect.

The spotlight effect occurs when we think that people are closely watching us to see what we do. And when we think people are fixated on us, we conform to what we think those people expect of us. The Elf is like a spotlight. Kids know that the Elf is fixated on them, so they conform to what they think the Elf expects of them.

Similarly, Mentoring triggers the spotlight effect. Knowing Mentors are watching, Protégés conform to what they think Mentors expect of them. Just like the Elf, without even opening their mouths, Mentors influence the behaviors of their Protégés.

4.       The Elf Creates Accountability

In order for the Elf to influence good behavior, kids must believe that the Elf is reporting back to Santa. This creates accountability. With the Elf hanging around on the shelf, they can’t just tell Santa that they’ve been good. They have to be good because the Elf is holding them accountable. That drives desirable actions and behaviors.

Similarly in our mentoring programs, we must leverage accountability to influence the same desirable actions and behaviors in our participants. The best structured mentoring programs require Mentors and Protégés to complete deliverables and engage the Protégés’ managers in the process. That structure creates accountability.

5.       Call it Magic

The Elf doesn’t explain exactly how he leaves the shelf and gets to the North Pole every night to talk with Santa. Does he fly? How long does it take? Is there a line of Elves waiting to talk with Santa or does he log his report into a computer somewhere?  Can he use an iPad or a smartphone? How does he get through your locked doors and back into the house? So many questions left unanswered because…no kid ever cares about them. They just call it magic because they are focused on the outcome – lots of presents from Santa. They couldn’t care less how the Elf delivers the information to the big guy.

The problem with mentoring programs is that people want to deconstruct them before they commit to participating. How long? How does it work? Is it worth it? Why should I do it? How much time is required? What is expected of me? What will we talk about? What is required of me? What is the commitment? How will I know if it works?

Wow. No suspended belief in magic!

What if, as the creator of mentoring, you sprinkled a little magic on your program? Painted it with charm and peppered it with anticipation? If you focused people on the outcome of mentoring and the magic of the mentoring process to influence transformations, perhaps they’d stop analyzing every detail before they actually started to play.

Mentoring – The Secret to The Biggest Loser’s Success

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

I am a self-proclaimed, fair-weather reality show watcherI only like to see the finales.

I am also a self-proclaimed mentoring sleuth. I look for the influence of mentoring in any successful endeavor when others don’t see, get it, or mislabel it as something else.

Tuesday night afforded me a perfect opportunity to engage in both.

It was the finale of the reality show, The Biggest Loser. And there I sat like a spellbound, season-committed groupie, rapt to the impressive metamorphosis of each person. And rarely disappointed, I discovered the show’s 2-hour season highlights rippled with evidence of mentoring in action.

The show, in its 12th season, sequesters 15 contestants on a ranch for 13 weeks to lose weight under the supervision of three trainers: Bob Harper, Dolvett Quince, and Anna Kournikova.

But calling them “Trainers” shortchanges their contributions while also shortchanging the influence of mentoring.  There is no way 15 categorically obese individuals successfully shed almost a ton of fat in 3 months with mere training.

Trainers train us to do a task, such as using the appropriate weights to build muscle or choosing healthy foods.

But Bob, Dolvett, and Anna didn’t just train these people to lose weight. They helped them to transform their lives as well as their bodies.

Only mentoring can do that.
Let’s define “mentoring,” as the word tends to conjure up images of Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars in 1977. Mentoring occurs whenever one person contributes to the growth, development, and success of another by teaching, advising, observing, sharing, guiding, and connecting.  The other person then takes those contributions and accelerates his/her success.

Bob, Dolvett, and Anna taught the contestants how to eat differently, trained them to work out strategically and become healthy, and even forced them to deal with their psychological barriers that were imprisoning them to this lifestyle.  They proffered advice and wisdom about what has worked and hasn’t for them personally and for past contestants. They shared their observations in each workout – sometimes even getting in the contestants’ faces to scream about the resistance and resignation they were observing. They journeyed with the contestants, guiding them through setbacks and failure. They connected them to doctors, nutritionists, and resources to create an at-home healthy lifestyle. And they cheered their successes, large and small.

In turn, the contestants absorbed all of those lessons, wisdom, advice, guidance, connections, and observations. And like true Protégés, they used it all to accelerate their own success to transformation.

Training alone never creates that kind of result. Only mentoring does.

Without the influence of mentoring, John Rhode would never have shed 220 pounds to be crowned Season 12′s Biggest Loser.

Train to Sustain – Elevating the Success of Mentoring

Monday, December 5th, 2011

People just want to win. In fact, we hate to lose so much that we’ll avoid activities and opportunities that might possibly make us lose.

Want to engage people in your mentoring program, help them win. It’s that simple.

What is it about losing?

People see themselves as winners, not losers. And we’ll go out of our way to avoid feeling like a loser. What makes us feel like a loser? Any situation where we’re afraid of flailing or failing.

In the world of behavioral economics, this is called “Loss Aversion.” According to this cognitive bias, when we perceive that we are about to lose, we get irrational with fear which manifests in our procrastination, excuses, hiding, defending, and running.

 Why would people feel threatened to lose in a mentoring program?

Imagine that you’re launching a mentoring program. You need Mentors. But your company has never offered a mentoring program and your Mentor candidates have never been involved in one, and they don’t know how to do it right. Secretly, they are afraid they’re going to fail. So, they claim to be “too busy to participate.” Or theyll ‘hemandhaw’ at your request and then procrastinate with the application, and fling a myriad of excuses as to why they didn’t complete the forms or show up to the kick-off.

 How do you help people win at mentoring?

By showing them how easy it is to succeed and still make a difference. By making it super easy to get involved, get started, get connected, be effective, and cross the finish line with a mentoring win.

 You can also do this by training people on how to be great at mentoring.

 Who should you train?

Everyone. Mentors, Protégés, Managers, and Mentoring Leaders (including you!)

 Why do you need to train Protégés?

Think about it – when in life were we taught how to be mentored? Protégés need training on how to receive the mentoring just as much as Mentors need training on how to give it.

And why train the Mangers?

The Manager is at risk of losing as well. From her perspective, she might feel like she is being left out. And she might fear that the Mentor will point out her mistakes, or equally upsetting, be a better leader for the Protégé.

Now if you train the Manager on how to contribute, you will create a different outcome. The Manager will feel included in the process, will support the relationship, and will know how to win.

What are you training people to do?

2 things:

1. Win at your program.

2. Win at mentoring.

How do you train people?

People learn in many different ways so you need to offer them different types of training. Some people learn by reading, others by listening, others by observing, and others by experiencing. Consider each as you develop your training.

 How often should you train people?

At the beginning, the middle, and the end.

The beginning is obvious. Get them started in the right direction.

But why the middle?

Because people need to experience mentoring in order to get the training.

And why the end?

Because you want your participants coming back for more. It takes a lot more energy to acquire new mentoring constituents than to keep the current ones. Train them at the end and you’ll acknowledge their win. They’ll come back for more.

 Training elevates the importance of mentoring.

When you train your participants, you are communicating the critical role they serve in the success of the mentoring relationship and the mentoring program. Doing so speaks volumes.