Thoughts on Leadership: The Mind-Set of a Mentor Leader

“The single most important factor that differentiates mentor leaders from other leaders in any setting is their outward focus on others.” – Tony Dungy In last week’s message I introduced the Chapter 1 Action Steps from the book, The Mentor Leader, by Tony Dungy.

As I continued to work my way through the book for the second time, I realized more people can benefit from this valuable information.

The book explains that mentoring is an essential leadership skill. In addition to managing and motivating people, it's also important that you can help others learn, grow and become more effective at their jobs. 

Dungy specifically concentrates on this concept in Chapter 2 - The Mind-Set of a Mentor Leader – “It’s not about me.” This chapter focuses on how mentor leaders look beyond themselves, focusing on the people they lead and where they should be going together.

Below are the key points from Chapter 2:

  • The mentor leader looks at how he or she can benefit others, which ultimately benefits the individual and the organization.
  • When it comes to effective leadership, it’s not about you and what makes you comfortable or helps you get ahead. It’s about other people.
  • Our long-term focus should be on investing in the training of the members of our organization so that they learn how to respond properly.
  • Am I prepared to have great success and not get any credit for it?
  • If you do it right, as a mentor leader you may make it all but impossible for other people to give you credit.
  • It’s relatively easy in today’s world to lose sight of the present in view of our goals and ambitions.
  • The first step is to understand and appreciate that the journey is as important as the destination.
  • We all must count the costs and make our decisions as congruent with our priorities as possible.
  • A well-case vision is one that can be commonly shared by all members of the team.
  • Keep the vision out front. Don’t let your team – wherever it is – quit early.
  • Craft a mission to the best of your ability, encapsulating the items that make your family or team unique, and then run with it.
  • Values tell us and others what is important to us – as leaders, as an organization, and as individuals.
  • Truly serving others requires putting ourselves and our desires aside while looking for ways and opportunities to do what is best for others.
  • Mentor leaders produce mentor leaders.

Tony Dungy has provided the following 10 action steps to help you understand the effectiveness and importance of mentor leadership:

Action Steps

1. Evaluate your focus: Is it centered on benefiting others? 2. Evaluate your influence: Are you focused on developing your “coaching tree” - building leaders who build leaders, generation after generation? 3. Evaluate your audience: Are you able to preserve a long-term focus on growing others while at times appropriately exercising more direct control and involvement? 4. Look ahead: Know your vision, mission, and values, but remember that life is about the journey, too. 5. Focus on the present: What can you do today to build into the lives of the people around you? Don’t miss the now. Remember, tomorrow may never come. 6. Evaluate your vision: What do you hope the future will look like as you proceed? 7. Evaluate your personal and organizational mission: Does it clearly tell you and the world what you’re about, why you’re here, and why you have chosen these goals? 8. Evaluate your values: Are your “rules of behavior” consistent with your principles? Does your “rudder” steer you in a good direction for how you will behave and treat others? 9. Evaluate your approach with your family, team, business, friends, and others: Mentoring is a lifestyle. 10. Remember that mentor leadership is all about serving. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

As you think about your career – indeed, your life – ask yourself which of these steps you might work more diligently to develop. Your progress toward becoming a successful mentor leader will accelerate to the extent you answer with honesty and confidence.