Why does the development of leaders require the special attention that mentors offer? If I cannot answer this question, I obviously have nothing to offer my clients. And yet answering that question is not easy!
In a recent talk to the Human Resources Planning Society, Robert W. Eichinger provided a very useful tool for making my case. His research at Lominger Limited, Inc. has identified 67 skills and competencies that contribute to managerial and executive success. The Lominger database has over a decade worth of tens of thousands of ratings from their 360-degree feedback tool assessing how managers and executives actually fair at the 67 competencies. The top skills cited were those that most managers were rated to be best at; the bottom rungs were filled by those which managers and executives were rated lowest at.
Let’s look at both the top and the bottom things, he cited.
The top ten skills that managers believe are best at are: (1) Intellectual Horsepower, (2) Functional/Technical Skills, (3) Integrity/Trust, (4) Ethics/Values, (5) Action Oriented, (6) Perseverance, (7) Customer Focus, (8) Standing Alone, (9) Drive for Results, and (10) Technical Learning.
On the other end of the scale, those skills managers are least effective at include, working from the bottom up: (67) Developing People (Dead last!), (66) Personal Learning, (65) Understanding Others, (64) Dealing with Paradox, (63) Confronting Direct Reports, (62) Managing Vision & Purpose, and (61) Personal Disclosure.
Here are a few more NEAR the bottom: (57) Directing Others, (56) Motivating Others, (54) Self Knowledge, (53) Building
Effective Teams, (49) Creativity, and (47) Dealing with Ambiguity.
What does this tell us about executives and managers? Well, we definitely want them to be able to perform well the actions at the top of the list. But what about the items at the bottom? Aren't these important qualities for leaders to have?
Please ask yourself this question: What’s it like to report to a boss that, with great integrity, intelligence and independence, drives for results, no matter what? And what is it like to report to someone who does those good things, but who also knows how to mentor, and who listens to what you have to say, knows how to incorporate new ideas into a plan of action and keeps people on track, no matter how stressful the situation?
That’s how much it matters. In fact, when we ask people to identify the leaders in their lives who have mattered, they NEVER cite the qualities at the top of the list (except for integrity and values), and they always describe someone who noticed and developed their skills and who listened to them. So the bottom of the list actually describes the kinds of “skills of character” that most differentiates leaders from managers.
Now here is the good news: There are definite ways these skills can get reinforced and nurtured in prospective leaders. While there may be many places and occasions for this kind of learning, there is one kind of interaction that is devoted to it, that hits it spot on: Mentoring.
Mentoring is about one thing: developing people to their full potential. It is all about personal learning: how to learn about yourself and what is important to learn about yourself as a leader. It is about appreciating others in your life and thinking more carefully and empathetically about other people. Mentoring discovers the paradoxes in yourself so you can celebrate the paradoxes elsewhere in your life.
The professional mentors at the Arch of Leadership can help you and your colleagues concentrate on those desirable character skills, especially the ones we’ve listed here that matter the most. We keep the focus on helping professionals and companies learn and grow, and develop true leaders.
Our eight-month course is not necessarily easy – personal learning is never easy, and self-knowledge is often as painful as it is joyous - but in the end, its graduates find themselves far, far down the road on the path to mustering and mastering those very qualities most executives find so difficult.
Contact us for more info, find out how mentoring can help you and other high-potential leaders in your company add the great stuff at the “bottom” of the list to the already well-handled stuff at the top.
NOTE: Lominger Limited is founded by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger. They are the creators of the Leadership Architect® Suite. For more information, visit www.Lominger.com