Inspiration with Dr Wilbert R Mutoko
‘He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.’ – Aristotle
In my quest to influence others to make a difference and to develop exemplary leaders of repute, leaders in the home, leaders in firms, leaders in government, leaders everywhere, and leaders without positions; I bring you the challenge of mentoring others and you following mentors.
I ask again the question, ‘Who are your mentors? Who are you mentoring?’
If your answers are none and none, may I conclude that you are not yet a true leader? Yes you might be in a leadership position, but not effectively leading. Leaders care about learning from other leaders and they empower others to succeed. Leaders are not just interested in results, but inspiring and developing other people.
Everyone needs mentors. Mentors are people that guide you and speak into your life. They are your models and you are accountable to them. You rarely do any crucial thing without first informing them or asking for advice. One can have mentors for different things – business mentor, financial mentor, marriage mentor, career mentor, academic mentor, spiritual mentor etc. A mentor must have attained success in the area they mentor you in.
In my experience, good mentors are like ladders that help you succeed faster by avoiding mistakes that could cost you dearly. Your mentor’s past mistakes will not happen to you because the mentor’s experience becomes your bridge. Furthermore, guidance from a good mentor is next to no other intervention in life.
I have also learnt that true leaders wish to locate ready mentees who can take over from where they have left. There is no true leader that wants to die before they pass on the relay button to one or more genuine followers that carry forward what they were doing. The biggest challenge however, is that it is not easy to find a humble, ready-to- learn, accountable, patient and persistent follower who will follow all the way.
Let me try to distinguish a mentor from a coach in my own words. A mentor is different from a coach. A coach can be someone who has no personal experience in the area which they assist you, but they know how to teach others to do as expected. That is why some football coaches, for instance, have never played football, but they are good coaches that have acquired knowledge in the area and they know how to teach others to do likewise. While everyone prefers mentors, coaches are also very helpful, whether it’s a financial coach, health coach, business coach etc. Nevertheless, mentors tend to produce more results than coaches due to their own experience. But that is a debatable issue which I leave to you.
One can have paid mentors and in some cases one can get unpaid, voluntary mentors. As they say, there is nothing for free. Free things are cheap. So, you should be willing to pay for quality mentorship. It is not easy to get unpaid mentors in today’s world. But if you are privileged to get one, you must be very grateful, and do everything possible to submit yourself to them, keep them updated, avoid lack of communication, honor them, be of benefit to them in any way possible, avoid being like a tick that just sucks blood from its host and never contributes anything except pain and diseases. A mentor is excited when you follow their example and you in turn mentor others. Failure to mentor others is failure to be a good follower. If others have been kind to you by mentoring you, why would you be so selfish that you mentor no one?
As a mentee, make sure that you humble yourself. Firstly, your mentor does not need you. You are the one that needs a mentor. Your mentor was successful before you came into their lives. So without you, they have more time to concentrate on their lives. So never deceive yourself by thinking that you are doing the mentor a favor by being their mentee. The mentor is actually doing you a favor.
Secondly, after a few mentorship lessons, do not be too quick to think that you are now better than your mentor. Keep humble, keep learning; your mentor is like a deep well that has gathered wisdom over years and in some cases decades. So for you to think that after one year you have already drawn all the wisdom from the mentor is to fool yourself.
Thirdly, as much as possible, get interested in your mentor, what they do and his or her family. Pray for your mentor and family. Offer to tutor mentor’s child, clean their home or office, and do something, especially if you are mentored for free. You cannot afford to keep drawing from the mentor without planting a seed in their life. Honor your mentor, remember their birthday, be there when they have challenges, and be helpful and grateful always.
Fourthly, find someone eager to learn from you and start helping them to take steps towards success. Help them to set and pursue goals. Refer them to books that can change their lives. Link them to people that matter. All of us have something to offer. All of us can mentor someone. For instance, if you are a tertiary student, you can mentor a primary or secondary school student. If you are a successful business person, there is someone out there seeking to become an entrepreneur. Go ahead and mentor them. If you are successful in career, there is someone young in career that needs you. Whether paid or unpaid, you must be mentoring some people out there. Whether online or offline, you must be mentoring some people. Remember, you are blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12:1-3).
Let us develop and maintain mentor – mentee relationships and take our countries to another level. This ensures transference of leadership skills and competences, as well as passing on the nature of caring and sustained success.
If we are to have great leaders and to enjoy peace and perpetual success in all facets of life – spiritual, business, financial, family, health, academic, and career; we must all be mentored and we must all mentor others.
All the best