Part Two of a series on Ethical Leadership — many more to come.
"Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.”
Ethics is a balance. Simply put, a balance between good and evil and your relationship with each.
Leadership is a balance. Guiding and letting go is a balance in itself.
In every endeavor in life, balance comes to play and it helps to have something or someone to help you maintain (or regain) your balance when times are tough. This is where mentors come in.
Of course you can ask someone for temporary guidance — we all do that from time to time. Unfortunately, 'temporary mentors' usually don't know the full score, they are fishing in the shallow waters and cannot fully understand the depths of your dilemma, opportunity, or situation.
A long-term mentor can help you not only solve present issues, but keep your eye on your long-term goals. Talking with them on a regular basis can help you regain your balance, fly straight, and keep your head clear.
Pick a mentor - choose a past boss, one that is not steeped in company intrigue. One that seems to fly above the corporate radar and get things done without playing politics. They can either come from a past company or your current one — but be careful with current company mentors - choose wisely.
State frankly that you would like to have them be your mentor. That you'll take them out to lunch to bounce ideas off of them. Let them understand that your talks will be highly confidential in nature and that you appreciate their guidance.
Schedule regular meetings - usually monthly or quarterly, off-site. Come with a good idea of the topics that you would like to cover. In addition, always add the question: "What do you think my next step should be?" It will allow you both to move from tactical to strategic thinking.
Keep them informed of the results - this will help the mentor/mentee relationship stay healthy and focused.
A mentor can help you focus on what is REALLY important and see things you might have missed. They will keep you on the right track.
P.S. By the way, if you cannot find anyone who can be a good mentor for you, call me.