Thoughts on Leadership: The Moments of a Mentor Leader

Over the past month I have been sharing the secrets of mentor leadership from the book, The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy. This book explains the importance and effectiveness of mentor leadership, offers insight into some of Dungy’s mentoring relationships, reveals the single most important thing that sets a mentor leader apart, and helps you discover the ultimate secret to building a winning team. Mentor leaders look for opportunities in life to make an impact, because those opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others will always be present. Dungy specifically focuses on this concept in Chapter 5, “The Moments of a Mentor Leader – Influence and Impact.” He explains, “Don’t worry about the size of your platform, focus on the impact you can have with the platform God gives you.”

Below are the key points from Chapter 5:

  • You stand where no one else stands. Open your eyes and your heart and look for opportunities.
  • Every platform creates a unique opportunity to change the world by changing people’s lives.
  • You need to be intentional about being a mentor, taking advantage of the opportunities you have in front of you.
  • Stop complaining and act. Do something to make the situation better.
  • Opportunities for influence may arise when least expected.
  • You can’t lead in a vacuum; leadership is all about relationships.
  • We are all role models for someone. There is simply no escaping it.
  • We can find role models in unexpected places, at unexpected times.
  • As a mentor leader, you must be aware that you are also a role model.
  • Mentor leadership requires a deliberate decision to get involved in someone else’s life.
  • You don’t have to be the head coach or general manager of a professional sports team to mentor someone.

The following are the Action Steps found at the end of Chapter 5:

Action Steps:

1. Name three mentors you have had. Stop and think about who they were, what their impact was in your life, and why they mentored you. How would your life be different if they had not taken the time to build into your life by mentoring you? Have you thanked them?

2. What did those mentors do well? What characteristics and qualities did they demonstrate that made their mentoring times with you effective? Can you implement those same qualities in your own life?

3. At a recent Impact for Living Conference, I encouraged attendees to write a letter to their mentors, telling them how their lives had been affected. The feedback I received suggests that it’s a worthy endeavor. People never grow tired of being told how they changed someone’s life.

4. Don’t forget that you are a role model – whether you want to be one or not. Live as if your life is under constant scrutiny because it is, by someone, somewhere.

5. What kind of role model will you be?

6. Are there special situations that God may have placed before you to act on? Has he provided the timing? Are you available? What are you waiting for?

7. Name three role models you have had. Were any of them people you know directly? How did you incorporate lessons from their lives into your own life?

8. We all have God-given platforms. The size doesn’t matter. What natural platforms do you have for influencing people’s lives?

9. How can you become more sensitive to the unexpected moments when you can make a difference?

Regardless of your style – deliberate or spontaneous – or your formal position within your organization, begin taking steps today to build into the lives of the people around you. It will improve your organization in the short term and over the long haul. And it might even have eternal significance.