Leadership in a word: Mentors

Seek out counsel and be a mentor to people, because they learn how to be mentors. - Cathy Engelbert


Long before John Maxwell, Jim Collins, Andy Stanley, Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni and many others who have inspired me on my leadership journey, there was Dr. Tom Wilson.

It was in Dr. Wilson’s organizational behavior and leadership class at Southeastern University more than 30 years ago when the flame and passion for leadership was ignited in me.

We bonded quickly and shared a passion for reading. We’d exchange books and talk about them. He was a challenging professor but caring. He inspired and prodded us to become our best and did it in a way that if he said we were going to charge hell with squirt guns we’d all sign up and do it.

But most of all, he was a mentor. And for that, I will forever be grateful. With great sadness, I’ve learned of his recent passing. He will be remembered fondly and missed greatly.

As I reflect on what Dr. Wilson meant to me personally, I can’t help but think of the impact and importance each of us has for mentors in our lives. After more than three decades removed from his classes and more than a few gray hairs now, I am more intentional about the impact I can have in the lives of others.

Writing the Harvard Business Review, Jack Zenger addresses the critical need for leadership training at an earlier age. His research shows that the average age of supervisors entering leadership training is 42. However, the average age of supervisors is 33. Simply put, we are waiting much too long to equip them with the leadership skills needed to succeed.

The simple truth is this - we need mentors who can impart their wisdom and knowledge on to us. As leaders, we never stop learning and we must never stop growing. Mentors can speak truth into our lives and help us keep a healthy perspective.

My purpose - my why - is about developing, inspiring, and mentoring as many leaders as I can. That passion, in large part, was because one professor cared enough to pour into the lives of his students in ways he probably never realized.

Thank you, Dr. Wilson and Godspeed.

Mentoring quotes

“The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.” - John Maxwell

“Colleagues are a wonderful thing, but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done.” - Junot Diaz

“The delicate act of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” - Steven Spielberg

“My best mentor is a mechanic- and he never left the sixth grade. By any competency measure, he doesn’t have it. But the perspective he brings to me and my life is, bar none, the most helpful.” - Brendon Burchard


Being a mentor is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Be it in your house of worship, community, company, or otherwise enriching the life of a child. Mentoring is one of the greatest acts of leadership and service.

©2018 Doug Dickerson

Read more at dougdickerson.wordpress.com.

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