Will You Step Up?

My recent posts have been about looking out for the one, being willing to invest in one person in that apprentice style role. However, this is about the other side of this opportunity…

Who will be the one who wants to be invested in?

Lots of people want success, want to progress but are not wanting to learn. The opportunity is there but not all are willing to do what it takes to own it. There’s risk in being the one who invests in others. There is risk in being the one who wants to be invested in too. Perhaps that’s why some people back off from putting themselves in this position.

Step up. Grab a hold of the chance to learn. Be listening. Ask questions. Put yourself in the world of someone who can teach you. Just never stop being someone who wants to learn.

Will you be one of those who steps up?

5 Tips for Being a Great Mentor

It seems a long time ago since I was a employed as a Learning Mentor in a local school. My role was to meet with students who had a high academic ability but for different reasons were not performing at that level. My mentoring role was very specific – help them get back on track.

It was a challenge. How to re-engage disinterested students? It was about finding that one thing that would create a spark, which could ignite a desire to improve. It was also about helping them work out their own plan for their future, to definitely not be just another teacher telling them what.

Good leaders learn the skill of being a mentor, a coach, an accountability partner. We often find ourselves as the person who keeps an individual moving forward, giving them a friendly or not so friendly kick up the butt when needed. We are that person who asks the critical questions, someone who has a strong desire to bring out the best in them.

Here a 5 things to remember before you put yourself forward as a mentor:

You are a role model. It’s not just about when you sit down and chat with them. All of your life will speak to them. Be careful to not reduce your impact by acting in a contrary way to how you are encouraging them to live.

You need to be able to listen well. It can be difficult to not just give them the answers but a good mentor/coach has to learn to enjoy awkward silences, giving time for thought and for them to work out the solution for themselves.

You need to have a genuine concern for them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care [John Maxwell]. You cannot fake this for long. If you are not genuine, people will see straight through you.

You need to be able to help them see the future. It’s not about your plan for their future. Good mentors lay out the options and let those they are mentoring find take the path best for them.

You must be able to ask them the difficult questions. A good mentor knows when to back off and say nothing, yet at the right time they also know when to confront. It’s not the easiest role to undertake but the rewards can be quite incredible.

Who could you mentor? How could you invest in another person, helping them to discover the best version of themselves?

Ask Questions


Leadership involves asking questions. Developing your leadership character is helped by asking good questions.

I think the first question I asked was this, ‘what am I doing?’ I still ask that question from time to time.

Here is one thing I have learned on my leadership journey: Asking the right people the right questions at the right time has the ability to help me become the right kind of leader.

Questions can help you learn.
Questions can scratch beneath the surface.
Questions are moments of genuine enquiry not just nosiness.
Questions can bring clarity.
Questions can grow you
Questions have answers that we may not always want to hear but should listen and learn from anyway.

You should always have a question. If you are listening to someone teach, get a question. You may not always get the chance to ask it but get one regardless.

Here are 5 general questions for a leader to start you off….
What are the characteristics you look for in a leader?
What’s the biggest thing you have learned about leadership?
Why do some leaders fail?
What do you do to keep growing as a leader?
What do you consider are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

If you could sit for a while with a leader who you want to learn from, what question would you ask?

Your Leadership Journey

Thought I would share 5 quick observations about the leadership journey…

1. Don’t Focus Too Much on the Destination – Concentrate on Taking the Next Step

The end game will happen. Whatever you think it will be & feel like, when you get there it will be & feel different. Not easier or harder, just different. Get on the journey. Stay on the journey. Be determined to make the next step. Don’t allow the frustration of things not moving as fast as you want & trust God for the long term outcomes. You may never get there if you gave up along the way. Keep showing up and let God do what God can do with people who just willingly make themselves available.

2. Leaders Really are Readers

There is no escape from this statement. Great leaders always maintain a passion for learning. Discovering that nugget of wisdom, sitting at the feet of other Pastors & Leaders, people who have gone before on the journey. Why wouldn’t you want to learn from them? Arrogance tells you it doesn’t matter but remember ‘pride comes before a fall’.

Leaders read. And not just leadership books. Read books, articles, listen to podcasts, follow individuals from all areas of modern culture so that you stay aware of what’s being talked about, what others are reading and what’s going on.

3. Double Up Wherever and Whenever You Can

Take others on the journey with you. As much as you want to be learning from someone else, be intentional about involving others on your journey too. Don’t over complicate it. Just connect with a few people to ‘be with’. If it was a good enough way for Jesus & the Apostle Paul, it is more that good enough for us.

Personally, I must work at making sure I don’t just make excuse why I can’t do this and always be making sure that I am intentionally investing in others, involving them in my world and influencing them on their leadership journey.

4. Making Mistakes is Not Always a Fatal Blow to Your Leadership

The only way to not make mistakes is to not do anything. Mistakes are to be expected. It comes with the territory of being a leader. You will make decisions, you will develop plans. Some will work, some won’t. That’s okay. Just make sure you learn from them because making the same mistakes over and over again will eventually disqualify you from your leadership position.

5. Be Courageous

Give it all you have got. Don’t hold back. God told Joshua to ‘be strong and courageous’. I’m guessing that didn’t mean Joshua had no fear, it just meant he needed to take God at His word, trust that word, and do what God was saying first. Fear stops us. Courage overrides that fear. It helps us just give it a go, maybe to do it despite the fear.

[Please leave your comments – I’d love to know what you think]

Life Coaching

As a Pastor one of main roles is to help people in their journey with God, equipping them to live the life that God wants them to. It’s the greatest privilege there is (I think). That people would buy into me as a leader and into Xcel Church and the vision for the future is incredible.

When I’m not Pastoring, my life is about helping fulfil their true potential. That’s why I’m offering LIFE COACHING sessions (and at a discount too). Check it out and get in touch if you think it’s for you.

Seeking Advice

Just after some of your thoughts and wisdom, so don’t just read – leave a comment too!!

Thinking about how people interact with each other, particularly at work. Don’t know about you but I can remember some managers who you would not want to approach for advice on a problem you were trying to solve.

How does your manager help you or otherwise when you are seeking advice because you have failed to find the solution to a problem? Which side of the fence do they fall on: command or coach?

Don’t be afraid: share your experiences. Thanks

The Vision Challenge

Was out yesterday doing some filming. Its the first time I’ve ever done stuff like that for use within a service at Xcel Church Darlington in a few weeks. Goodness knows what it will look like. Despite thinking very carefully about what I wanted to say I felt like I completely rambled and made no sense at all.

When I talk about vision – I don’t lack passion. Those listening will definitely know that I mean what I say.

When I talk about vision – I believe in it. Vision is powerful and in my opinion essential. More important though is what you do with that vision – that is the difference. Anyone can dream but not everyone fulfils it.

That’s the challenge. That’s a challenge for me right now. I have new ventures I am excited about, I have big dreams for them but words are nothing if I don’t act on them. I am as determined as ever to give it my best shot.

A friend asked me if I could have made any money from the coaching & mentoring I am looking to offer in schools during the past month. That’s one of those great questions you don’t want to be asked. If I’m honest, yes I could have but I didn’t. I had excuses, legitimate ones in my view but on reflection a little weak.

I am in the midst of the challenge that vision brings. I will make it to the other side.

Responsibility = Maturity

Perhaps this is the truest test of leadership there is. After all, an individuals ability to take responsibility for something certainly reveals something about them.

Maybe responsibility has different levels.

1st – either you are given or you take on the responsibility for a project or a task: how you handle that responsibility begins to reveal certain characteristics about you.

2nd – having responsibility for the task demands ownership of the task: how you answer the questions about the task reveal yet more characteristics about you.

3rd – you can delegate aspects of the task away but ultimately you are still responsible: how you hold onto the ‘ball’ reveals even more characteristics about you.

Responsibility – the willingness to handle it, own it and answer for it are incredible tests of a leaders success. If in questioning team members they are always giving you answers like…

‘It’s not my responsibility’ ‘That was not my job’ ‘Whats-his-name was doing that’

then they are failing the responsibility test and revealing a lack of maturity.

On reflection…
I have to make sure that I am consistent in my handling of responsibility and that I portray a great example myself. That is maturity. It is easy to complain and pass the buck, that’s why so many people do that. To stand the test of time as a leader and become increasingly influential, taking responsibility might hurt at times, especially when we get it wrong, but think about the rewards it can build – in you, in your team and in those around you.

Holding the Responsibility When its Yours = Maturity

Passing the Responsibility When its Yours = Immaturity