1 Timothy 4:12-16: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
1 Timothy 1:18:“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy…”
Who are you mentoring? Who are you pouring into? Who is getting the benefit of your work and life experiences? This person may not work for you. They may be in another department perhaps even another company. As leaders, we should always be looking back to help mentor someone. Mentoring not only polishes the mentee and helps them to reach their highest potential but it also forces you to stay on top of your game.
Reflection: If you answered that you have no one that you are mentoring then its time to get busy finding someone. When considering someone to mentor, there are things that you may want to prayerfully consider: growth potential, maturity, mutual interest, your availability and what you can provide. Ask yourself am I making mentoring decisions based on gender, attractiveness, race, age, or other factors. We are all human and therefore have the tendency to act human. The trick is to keep our humanity in check by self-reflection and accountability. (For in-depth education on mentoring and grooming please see pages 66-97 of my book “The Air Force’s Black Ceiling”).
Gen 41:33-41: “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.”
This passage about Joseph and Pharaoh is an example of a leader giving good talented people room to become all they can be, to exercise their full potential, without being threatened by their success. I can say from experience that there is nothing worse than having a micromanager boss or an insecure boss, or both. Talented people need room to stretch their wings and see how far and how fast they can climb.
Micromanagers are like kryptonite to these people. Allowing micromanagers to run unchallenged is the surest way to lose your most talented people. A good leader recognizes that having great people on his team makes his team successful, and everyone wins. As the boss, I need to be secure enough to let my people flourish knowing that I will only go as high as my team goes. Insecure, prideful, micromanaging bosses assume they have all the best answers and therefore have to see everything to ensure that everything is done the best way that it can be done--their way. This style of management kills the spirit and enthusiasm of those bright, “Jospehs” on the team. It motivates these types of people to seek opportunities somewhere else, where the can express their creativity and achieve their full potential.
Reflection: Where are the Josephs in your organization? Are you setting them over responsibilities commensurate with their ability? Do you believe that when your team does well, it’s a reflection on you? Are you using your authority and resources to open up doors to those who can run with their talents or to enforce barriers and cumbersome “mother-may-I” approval processes? Joseph was allowed to flourish under Potiphar and Pharoah’s authority and everything Joseph did for them prospered. Where can you reposition, unleash, a “Joseph” in your organization, under your authority, to tackle a huge obstacle and score a victory for your team? Do you realize that Joseph wasn’t the slave with the most longevity in Potiphar’s house? Nor was he one of the seasoned leaders in Pharoah’s administration. Are you afraid to unleash a Joseph, someone with unusual talent and ability, merely because of the reaction of those who have been around longer? How do you justify giving more leash to an exceptional talent while keeping a tighter rein on someone who has paid their dues and been loyal but just doesn’t have the rare, unique giftings of your Joseph?
Luke 9:46-7: “ Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart...”
How do you create an environment where you encourage everyone to be their best, reward behavior, delegate responsibility based on ability and performance yet minimize internal strife and jealousy? I think first you have to be able to sense when the healthy competition has begun to turn into something detrimental and quickly address it. First, check yourself. Have I been fair? Do I show partiality? Favoritism? How do I protect against the natural human tendency to give more praise to the people that I like the most? What processes do I have in place to make sure that I am aware of how well everyone on the team is doing? No boss can know everything that each of their subordinates is doing but what do I have in place to funnel up the good things that they are doing, the things that are in alignment with our goals?
Reflection: Where is the thermometer in your organization? How are you assessing the climate to assess how healthy it is as it pertains to competition, perceptions of favoritism and unfairness? Do you have favorites? Let me ask again, do you have favorites? Is it obvious? What checks and balances do you have in place to ensure that rewards match performance and workplace contributions not your internal list of favorites?
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