You probably know one or two supposed leaders who are self-focused. The question at the forefront of their minds is, “How high up the ladder can I climb?” True leaders, however, make the shift from climbing up the ladder themselves to thinking about how they can build ladders for others.
Now, it’s certainly true that climbing the ladder successfully yourself is a prerequisite if you want to help others do the same. A good rule of thumb, according to Maxwell, is to aim to be in the top ten percent of your chosen field. That’s the magic zone in which you’ll stand apart from the rest. Get to that top ten percent, and you can safely assume that you have a lot to offer others.
And that’s the best way to look at your success – as a great resource to use to help others. As Kevin Myers, leader of 12Stone, a Wesleyan church based in the US state of Georgia, says, true leaders want more for their people than they want from them.
So how can you build those ladders for others to climb? Well, if you’ve hit that magic top ten percent, then think about mentoring.
The first thing to do is decide whom to mentor. Think carefully. Time is limited, so if you can only invest in one or two people, they’d better be the right ones. To ensure you choose wisely, ask yourself a few key questions.
First, are these people just hopeful, or are they truly hungry for knowledge and learning? There are plenty of people in the world who hope for better things, but only a few who are hungry for it, who don’t simply say, “There should be a way,” but rather, “I’ll find a way.” Invest in these people.
Second, ask yourself whether your candidate has true leadership potential. That’s because a leader will influence many other people. So investing in shaping their future has a wider impact than if you mentored a follower.
Once you’ve selected your mentee, what should you offer that person? Well, any good mentor offers bite-sized truths distilled from the complexity of life, and options and considerations for the future.
But as we’ll see, it isn’t enough for a leader simply to tell people what to do.