Very often mentoring happens in a corporate setting where a new employee gets mentored by a seasoned one. In this situation mentoring is about showing this new person “the ropes”. It tends to be tactically driven. I also think about mentoring in a service manner. Like an adult mentoring a child, still in a formal way, as part of a commitment to an organization or school. This mentoring is less tactical but still takes place for a finite period of time then the mentor gets back to their normal life. The mentoring is something that is done, like grocery shopping or going to the gym.
What if we started to think of mentoring more as modeling behavior? It becomes less finite and more about how we carry ourselves every day.
This is a term that I use frequently in my leadership sessions and I truly believe that it is one of the most powerful actions that any of us can commit to. Modeling behavior means that you act in a way that shows integrity, and treat others in a way that you would have them treat you. It works in leadership settings because you are literally leading by example. Life works that way as well, we are all, always, leading by example. Do you get tired of your kids talking back, but how often do you speak to them in a condescending manner? Do you get tired of mediocre service in stores, yet do do frequently demand things that are unrealistic to provide? How often do you actually model the behavior you would like to see in return?
Ways to model behavior:
- Act consistently in a way that you will be proud of. Saying one thing and doing another, is not modeling behavior.
- Communicate clearly and concisely.
- Remain positive in the face of adversity. This can be challenging, but this is what modeling behavior is all about. You become an example to others when you handle adversity well. Anyone can handle joyful situations well, our true tests come with how we handle the things in life that don't go our way.
- Stay organized: this allows you to do what you say you will and is the key to truly modeling behavior. Those who are disorganized rarely model behavior. They are too busy spinning.
- Respect the efforts of others, respect time and respect yourself.
I have regular conversations with people who talk about how small the world really is, if it is a small world, we have to assume that our actions have an effect on those around us. Remember the old television commercial that starts out with an egg in a frying pan, and ends with a trashed kitchen? Our actions affect others, whether it is about drug addiction or showing kindness. It is not always easy to model behavior, but doing what is right and doing what is easy are rarely the same thing.