Solution Saturday: What Would You Do

Being a mentor is an ego building experience for immature leaders. What do you do, when a mentee asks, “What would you do?”

Self-importance motivates mentors to prematurely spew “pearls of wisdom.”

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Rushing to give advice short-circuits the opportunity for others to find their path forward.

Self-importance distracts mentors from the focus of the relationship, the mentee.

Stop talking, if you can’t wait to talk.

Tell me what to do:

Never tell anyone what to do until they’ve tried some of their own solutions. “What have you tried,” is one of the first questions to ask mentees who want you to tell them what to do.

Expect others to solve our problems – for us – is weak and irresponsible.

Always develop at least three options before asking an advisee to choose one. Don’t tell people what to do. Help them find options and let them choose.

Choosing an option invites responsibility and growth, but telling mentees what to do invites dependence.

The gift:

Invite mentees to reflect, rather than giving answers. One of the great gifts you give a person is the opportunity to reflect on their journey, while you listen.

Withhold answers. Perhaps your mentee struggles with frustration, fear, uncertainty, intolerance, abrasiveness, or talking too much.

Don’t solve it until you observed it.

Invite mentees to spend a week reflecting on a troubling behavior, frustration, for example.

  1. When is frustration most obvious?
  2. What behaviors manifest when you’re frustrated?
  3. What do others do when they see your frustration?
  4. What does frustration accomplish for you?
  5. If you weren’t frustrated, what would you be?

When mentors rush to give answers, they rob mentees of the opportunity to reflect.

How might mentors respond to, “What do you think?”

When is it useful for mentors to share what they would do?