Archives For Mentor

This post is about you – as an organizational leader. Lifelong learning is a critical component of our personal and professional growth that we often seem to forget as we rise through the ranks. Unfortunately, as most of us become more senior within the organization, there is an undeniable challenge we face – facilitating our own ongoing growth and development. It becomes more and more difficult to identify growth opportunities, training, relevant readings, etc. and to deny the pull to remain stagnant – focusing on what we already know vs. the potential we have to know more. Perhaps most importantly, there is often a stealth sense of false complacency that emerges as a result of past success. However, the reality is that with the frequency and scale of change in global organizations, the leader that is not continually growing and changing with the environment may very well find that  s/he has been left behind at the last jumping off point.

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own personal development…and reaching your potential.  Many leaders let the business take priority over reaching their potential, or wait for the company to assume ownership of their development. Is this really what is most beneficial for you, and by default, the organizaion?  As leaders, it is easy to forget that it is far more effective to stretch ourselves, and thereby our organizations, than it is to settle for the status quo.  But how do you continually push yourself to think harder and go further? You can employ any number of self-help philosophies, but the reality is that you will probably not follow through – and if you do, they will typically not generate the results you hoped they would.

Finding and engaging a good mentor may be a critical success factor you are missing. Mentoring is a process about enabling and supporting your personal and professional growth. Organizational life can sometimes feel like climbing up the side of a mountain – as we struggle up the steep parts we are breathless, challenged, single-minded, and in need of support and sustenance. There may even be some moves we can not make without being tied to a partner. Mentoring can help with your changes in altitude, and enable you to get to higher ground – where you just may be able to see things from a different perspective. You will be able to see the mountains in the distance and new ways forward that were just not visible from your position below. Your mentor should facilitate a process that leads you to consider different perspectives, new ways of thinking, and deeper self-knowledge.

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“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Mentors represent knowledge, reflection, insight, and wisdom. They offer understanding, compassion, strategy, and good advice. They engender trust, issue challenges, provide encouragement, and offer positive reinforcement. It is the Extreme Global Leaders responsibility to mentor those brilliant mavericks that global business attracts – those individuals defined as willfully independent and dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and innovation. They challenge the common practices of global business – business they see as ready for change and renewal. Mavericks continually raise uncomfortable questions that challenge the status quo, inspiring us to go wider and deeper – not to hide from the reality of the ever-evolving global marketplace.  Mavericks consistently inquire into how they can do something radically different. They want to think about the next big idea and make it happen. Mavericks want to make a difference, discover how to re-create and re-energize their team, division, organization, and their world.  They are Extreme Leaders in the making – you want Mavericks, indeed, you NEED them.

In his book, Leading The Revolution, Gary Hamel warns, “Most people in an industry are blind in the same way. They’re all paying attention to the same things, and not paying attention to the same things”. Mavericks are just the opposite, they understand that strategy and product/service development can no longer be about replication, competing from virtually identical playbooks – they get that innovation and reinvention are an “X” factor to organizational (and individual) success. Extreme Global Leaders know that mavericks are their best opportunity to continually and successfully reinvent the organization.

A transformational approach to leading mavericks is required. A single maverick can be challenging, a team of global mavericks can be downright intimidating – yet exhilarating at the same time. Mavericks are extremely confident by nature and if managed appropriately, are likely to unleash their creativity and insight to the benefit of the entire global organization. Appreciating and recognizing the possibilities mavericks bring to an organization is extremely important. When processes or projects become entangled, turn to skilled mavericks for unorthodox solutions and infectious enthusiasm, and leverage their willingness to involve and commit themselves 110% to ideas and projects. If change is causing chaos and confusion in the organization, a maverick’s visionary foresight will encourage creativity and inspire the whole group to passionately pursue their game-changing future.  Always keep in mind what Earl Bakken says about these unique individuals: “You want to have some mavericks who are out ahead 5 or 6 years. If you don’t have them, you better grow them …”.

It is critically important for a Global Leader to establish and maintain an environment where new ideas— often outside of the corporate norm, sometimes radical—can be heard and evaluated. Extreme Leaders find ways to pay specific attention to what their “idea people” are saying and doing – they listen and understand that from the maverick will come the innovation and reinvention of the future. They listen, even when the listening is not particularly pleasant or easy. They understand, as they listen, that talented mavericks do not always communicate in a direct or linear manner. In some cases, the communication is both brilliant and unintelligible, and it becomes the role of the Extreme Leader to provide for the essential interpretation and operationalization to leverage the information to the company’s benefit. It is the Extreme Global Leader’s function to hear the ideas, but more importantly, to encourage and guide them toward successful ends.

Extreme Global Leaders neither bury brilliant mavericks, nor let them venture too far off on their own – they mentor them in a purposeful and meaningful context. With an enormous amount of imagination and patience, Extreme Global Leaders accommodate their thinkers on a global basis and give them the support their brilliance deserves. The challenge in leading mavericks is great, but so, too, are the potential rewards. Who are your mavericks and how are you going to mentor them?

You can contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next Thursday for the next installation  of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.