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Mentor Leadership Part 3

Written by: Lorraine Twombly
Published: December 2012

Choosing an N word within the word Mentor was a bit hard at first. For those of you who have not read past articles, I've been writing about being a Mentor Leader. Mentor leadership is just another style of leadership to consider and is a great skill to learn to help leaders achieve their highest level of leadership. So, when thinking about the letter N and a word that describes a characteristic of a good mentor, I thought of Negotiating.  By negotiating, I don't mean competing for the best price of a sale. I'm talking about our everyday sometimes small but always important negotiations from the time we get up in the morning till we go to bed at night.
Consider getting up Monday morning and facing what's ahead for the week. The minute we wake up we are negotiating what to wear, how we will approach certain folks throughout the week, and what decisions are to be made and managed, led through and resolved. The art of negotiating is truly a unique trait to have as a mentor and I'd like to spend a few paragraphs explaining why.

Negotiation Defined
Negotiating as a mentor is really about thinking things through and developing relationships that will encourage feedback, trust, expectations, and wanting genuine success for others. We can look at negotiations as ways to obtain opportunities that were not there recognize the sense that there is more to be learned from each situation. When we are mentoring others, it is our job to help them to understand the value of good negotiating. I don't mean the typical sales-related version of negotiating...I mean the relationship side of negotiating.

Transactions and Transformations
There are transactions in all mentor relationships. These transactions are the actions that are quick and add value but by themselves are short term and don't last long like setting up a meeting or making a call. Important buy by themselves not life changing.
The transformations of mentor relationships are the longer term things like inspirations gained, goals set and achieved, and changing behaviors that last. These transformations are the good stuff for mentors everywhere. These things last.
The transformational side of negotiating makes sense to me:

  • Communications Count – How we communicate can make or break our negotiating with others. Attitude is everything and genuine curiosity is the salve that helps build the trust that is first and foremost in any and all relationships.
  • Discussions Lead to Deeper Dialogue – Discussing issues back and forth to get to the right answer or solution works as long as personal feelings are kept out of the discussion or meeting. This can be decided prior to and can set a positive stage for truth or discussing big elephants as they say. After all, we all need to hear as many facts as possible so we can make good, sound decisions. If we invite it, we will get it.
  • Thanks for the Honor of Allowing Us to Mentor – Appreciation for feedback and good ideas are crucial. Thanking others for their contribution to the decisions that are made promotes a very healthy environment of achievement and support.

I am honored to have many mentors and I recommend everyone at least have a champion that they can rely on to bounce ideas off of and to discuss approaches and decisions that need to be made. Having someone there to negotiate with (which is the same as discussing an issue with) can be beneficial in our decision making and also in helping others as mentors to do the same.

First look at your own everyday negotiations – The art of negotiating is a life-long journey and only a very few of us know how to do it right all the time. As long as we think that negotiating with self (how we make everyday decisions) and others (how we make decisions with individuals or with a group or team) can be a good thing to be aware of, we are all set. Awareness, a positive attitude toward change and to do better, and helping others to negotiate at an art level are fine behaviors to pay attention to and strive to improve on.
I welcome your thoughts on negotiating as a mentor leader's responsibility. One of my many mentors asked me once to try to remember to wake up every morning and think of my day and how I will go about living and working it. Be aware of the many decisions I make and I will see just how many times I negotiate...some may be negative and most of the time there are a lot of positive negotiating going on and sure enough, she was right.

Lorraine Twombly

Lorraine Twombly