How Leaders Develop

One of the aspects of our foundation that excites me most is the development of a mentoring program for developing non-profit leaders. In my previous work as a pastor there was little that I enjoyed more than connecting regularly with young people who aspired to fulfilling their spiritual calling with boldness and wisdom. Having the chance to continue that kind of work is amazing. When I look on my own experiences with significant mentors it is not difficult to identify some aspects of the relationships that made it valuable. Sincere personal interest, a developing sense of mutuality, willingness to extend beyond the primary topic of reference, vulnerability, respect, discerning use of books or other resources; they all make it work. But most of those are “soft” qualities that are difficult to program or systematize. I’ve been able to replicate them to varying degrees with some people in the past and it has made for a rich time of shared learning. But it doesn’t happen with everyone. Now I need to develop an effective mentoring program to employ with some developing leaders for our foundation. I want it to be more than worthwhile for the participants; I want it to be transformative. How do I take what seems to be an organic strength in my experience and develop a structure that maximizes the likelihood of that transformation? Here are some of my thoughts along the way, I’d love to hear from others… -An element of community is crucial. When a group work together it reduces the risk of me projecting my own expectations or struggles onto someone else. -A small group aspect also helps maintain a humble authority and accountability. -There needs to be enough structure to ensure that even if there isn’t an easy natural mutual affinity, there is value for people to participate. -there need to be times of active application of what we’re discussing together, as well as times of personal reflection. -the program must be flexible enough to adapt to individuals but rigid enough to have some predictable outcomes. -There needs to be encouragement to find additional mentoring specific to areas where I or the group lack the expertise to advise. -I need to be a facilitator and advisor rather than an instructor. -There needs to be a buy in from the participant’s supervisor or organisation to the value and expectations of the program. -There needs to be an expectation that those who participate will likewise be involved in mentoring others. Thoughts?