The Methods of a Mentor

Your only job is to help your team be better.

That single idea had a huge impact on Tony Dungy, and it lead him to develop the successful leadership style so admired by players and coaches throughout the NFL and beyond.

In his book “The Mentor Leader,” Dungy reveals what propelled him to the top of his profession. He introduces the concept of “the mentor leader,” someone who takes their own gifts and skills and uses them to help others grow. Here are the methods of a mentor leader:

The Seven E’s of Enhancing Potential

Engage – it is critical for mentor leaders to engage with those they lead. It’s impossible to mentor from a distance.Mentorleaders should always be looking for ways to connect with the people they lead. They walk alongside the people they lead – and love every step. Engagement means a true open door policy, reflects attitude and approachability, not just whether the office door is propped open. Without engagement, you cannot mentor effectively.

Educate – education is an essential building block of mentor leadership. Because mentor leadership is all about helping others become the best they can be, it is built on a foundation of teaching, helping, and guiding.Mentorleaders must take a hands-on, one-on-one approach to mentoring individual lives.

Equip – mentor leaders create an environment in which others can be productive and excel. In essence, they strive to furnish what is needed for the task – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – and to accomplish the mission. Equipping goes hand in hand with educating if we want people to perform at their highest potential.

Encourage – mentor leaders are encouragers, and encouragement is the fuel that powers a leader’s efforts to engage, educate, and equip. Encouragement helps lubricate the rough spots, but even when things are going smoothly, it’s important to build others up.Mentorleaders are better off overusing encouragement than under using it.

Empower – true empowerment is preparation followed by appropriate freedom. Once your protégé is ready, stop teaching them and let them “take the test.” Empower them by letting them go.

Energize – great leaders energize and inspire those they lead. Even as they face their own daily struggles and stresses, mentor leaders look for way s to energize and motivate the people around them.

Elevate – the ultimate goal of every mentor leader is to build other leaders. The regenerative idea that leaders produce other leaders, who in turn produce leaders – is a powerful concept for mentor leaders and their organizations. At the heart of this regeneration is the principle of elevation – raising other people up. Raising up leaders is the truly selfless goal of every mentor leader, the culmination of focusing on others.

Dungy’s methods for maximizing the potential of any individual, team, organization, or institution for ultimate success and significance are helpful for anyone considering becoming a mentor.

Whose potential will you maximize starting today?

(a reposting of a previous series on Mentoring while I am away on vacation)


How to Grow a Large Church – Elmer Towns style

Dr. Elmer Towns, Co-founder of Liberty University and now Dean of the School of Religion, stopped by the Auxano booth this afternoon. In a fascinating conversation spanning only a few minutes but covering decades of church growth and health, one comment stands out. When asked about the founding of Liberty along with Jerry Falwell, he said:

Everybody wanted to know how to grow a big church. The answer is simple:

Go where the pulpit was hot!

He went on to explain that it meant preaching about the Gospel and how it changed lives. Chapel speakers weren’t faculty members – they were local pastors who came in and preached on what they did in ministry last week. He would give the same advice today to pastors and church planters – learn by doing from people who are doing it.

-from the SBC floor

Celebrating Father’s Day

With the passing of my father earlier this year, each day in 2012 brings a new perspective. This Father’s Day, the first one in which I can’t tell him how much I appreciate him and thank him for all he did for me, is a good example.

Upon reflection, though, I can tell him: by my actions to my children and their children. Though it may not be verbal, my dad knows now, as he knew before, that he left a huge impact on me, my family, my children, our extended family, and our community. So today, I celebrate Father’s Day as a:


This eulogy pretty much says it all. But I will keep saying it, and telling my kids and grandkids about my Dad, and they will hopefully see in me some of the things I learned from my dad.


As the father of four terrific kids (and I still think they are terrific even after hearing childhood stories for the first time from them as young adults), now increased by two beautiful and wonderful young women who are the delight of my older two sons’ lives, I am simply blessed. I enjoyed watching these kids grow up from newborns to children to teenagers to now young adults. It has not always been easy (my mistakes more than theirs), but it has been quite a ride. Now those kids are 19, 23, 27, and 31 – and I am totally humbled by their lives’ trajectory. I simply say my legacy is being fulfilled in front of me through my kids, and I am so proud of them.


I literally grew up in the presence of grandparents; first, my paternal grandmother who lived in a small house right next to ours, then my maternal grandparents who lived there until I was off to college. As we began our family, both my parents and my wife’s parents, though not physically as close, were involved in our kids’ early lives. I had some good role models when my oldest son announced that he was going to be a dad. So now I am GrandBob to Jack (4) and Lucy (21 months) and Jellybean (due to arrive in late November). What a gig! Though my grandkids are separated by distance, I am glad that they know me and recognize me (joy is your granddaughter playing peek-a-boo on Skype). That makes time when I can be with them (Lucy and her mom spent a week with us recently; we spent the day with Jack yesterday) even all the more special.

On this Father’s Day, although I can’t celebrate with my father in person, I celebrate him through what he gave me, what I am passing on to my kids, and what they, in turn are passing along to their kids (and of course what “spoiling” I get in as GrandBob!).

Saying Goodbye

While visiting my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in New Mexico (where my son is stationed at Cannon AFB), my father passed away.

My wife and I flew back to Charlotte today, and tomorrow morning we head to Tennessee with two of our children, while the other two join us for the memorial services later this week.

I’ll have some thoughts to share later this week…

Inspiration is perishable

We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal. They last forever.

What doesn’t last forever is inspiration. Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk: it has an expiration date.

If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now. You can’t put it on a shelf and wait two months to get around to it. You can’t just say you’ll do it later. Later, you won’t be pumped up about it anymore.

If you’re inspired on a Friday, swear off the weekend and dive into the project. When you’re high on inspiration, you can get two weeks of work done in twenty-four hours. Inspiration is a time machine in that way.


Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.

The inspirational words above come from the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier, the founders of 37signals.

If you don’t own it, you should.

The artwork is by illustrator Mike Rohde.

Introducing the Scrum to ChurchWorld

During the course of the past week’s posts I have journeyed from Generation Flux to Adaptability to Nostalgia to Agile Development to a new destination: the Scrum.

It’s actually all part of the same journey: 1) realizing tomorrow is not going to be like yesterday, and 2) What am I as a leader going to do about it?

Back to the Scrum. As a parent of four children, I have been involved in many sports, some for fun, more that were in a league setting. About three years ago, my youngest son-at that time a junior in high school-came home and said he had signed up for the rugby team at school.


Okay. New experience, new opportunity for learning.



In rugby, a scrum is a formalized contest for possession of the ball during a rugby game between the two sets of forwards who each assemble in a tight-knit formation with bodies bent and arms clasped around each other and push forward together against their opponents.

Hold that thought.

Yesterday I suggested that an Agile Manifesto for ChurchWorld needs to be developed. In my research to do just that, what do I encounter but a Scrum – but with a new definition:

In the agile world a scrum is a process framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.

I think it’s time to go back to the drawing board.