4 "Hows" to Empower Your People

Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

As mentioned above, the "why" of empowering your people is one thing, but what about the "how"? How can you empower the people you lead in a practical way? We have identified 4 ways to empower. As you read them, consider how you can put these into action for your team.


1. Manage Your Power and Influence


Power itself is not bad or good; it is how a person chooses to use it. Power is a necessary component of leadership because leaders are moving toward something—they are producing effects. Power is necessary to move people forward, to enforce necessary vision, to instigate change and to influence others. And it is the leader’s responsibility to choose to use power in a way that multiplies potential and impact.

Influence, on the other hand, is the ability to have an effect on someone’s character, development or behavior. Influence runs deeper than power. Power is an external force that is often derived from a position of authority. Influence is earned. People give their leaders the right to influence them when they place their trust in them. The key to successful leadership is to get people to a place where they willingly follow you and go where you lead, not just to obey orders. It is the difference between someone obeying out of fear or obligation vs. someone who does something because they believe it is the right thing to do.




Given by or taken from others in authority
Earned by practicing trust

Comes from position of authority

Granted by the people you lead

Affects a person’s external actions

Affects a person’s internal motivations
People obey you

People believe and follow you



2. Motivate

A big part of empowering people is in motivating them and building their confidence. As a leader, your job is to motivate people to use their strengths and abilities to impact your organization through clear purpose. So how can we motivate?

- Make employees feel they are doing something meaningful. Communicate how their work has an impact on the mission of your organization and be specific. Take the time for individual interaction.

- Effectively communicate and share information so they can take on learning, ownership and innovation on their own.

- Get ongoing input from employees and involve them in the decision making process.

- Fire people when needed. This may sound harsh, but having negative people who are passive aggressive, and who pull down the team’s efforts hurt morale. Even the most positive people can be de-motivated by negative people if that negativity is allowed to continue.

- Challenge people to rise to the occasion. Involve them in problem-solving. This kind of creativity can be very motivating as it bonds people together for a common cause.

-Build their confidence through refraining from second guessing their work and decisions unless necessary, encouraging them to take risk and responsibility by having their back if things don’t go well. In other words, expect mistakes. This is part of the process and critical to learning.



3. Be an Encourager, Not a Discourager





Hoard Resources 

Liberate people through an encouraging environment that
promotes people’s best thinking and work 

Discourage Talent 

Challenge people to stretch in their thinking and work
Suppress open and creative thinking
Promote productive debate so the best possible decisions are made
Have to "know more" 

Help people take ownership of results and invest in these people’s success
Make linear decisions with nuclear reasons      
Ask more questions, voice their opinion sparingly and really listen and care
about what is said 




Be an encourager, not a discourager—your effective leadership depends on it!



4. Manage Performance

Managing performance requires a balance between compassion and accountability. If we manage people well, we manage performance well too. Remember, performance management is about people. It's not about systems or processes or rules.

- Clearly articulate workplace and performance expectations. Explain them, make sure they are clarified, and then make sure you agree on them. If you are just telling, you don’t get buy in and the person you are working with will not perform well according to your expectations. Both of you lose.


- Ask for the performance you want based on their strengths. You cannot assume that employees know what you expect. Employees are often demotivated by a lack of clear expectations. If their leader does not give them a clear picture of what is expected of them then they don’t know what they are working toward, nor do they understand how to judge their success.


- Acknowledge good performance by reinforcing good behaviors and actions.


- Prepare for and deliver performance appraisals. But don’t wait for the end of the year to tell people how they are doing and give feed back. No one should enter into a performance appraisal not knowing what it will say.


- Model the behaviors and actions you expect of others. People will be more motivated to step into roles if they see you modeling that type of behavior.



Barriers to Empowering Your Team

Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Once you understand the potential impact of empowering your people it is important to recognize possible hurdles that may keep you from giving them the power authority or permission they need to truly be empowered in their role.

Below we have listed four possible barriers to empowering your team. Take a moment to read through these items. Consider if any of these resonate with you or if perhaps there are different ones that come to mind for you. Then take this exercise one step further by brainstorming specific ways that you can push through these challenges. Make a plan to break these barriers and empower your team.

Job Security

Some people believe that if they train and empower others to really excel, they will work themselves out of a job. They think, “If I empower really bright people to accomplish what I can’t do, then I may be out of a job, replaced by the very people I empowered.” But leadership doesn’t work this way. Leaders prove themselves absolutely invaluable to an organization if they are able to find talented people, enlist them, equip them and empower them to be an effective and productive team.

These types of leaders are few and far between and that is why they stick out! Putting together strong teams will make you indispensable! Identify the strengths that each person brings to the table. As you do, you will begin to realize that empowering each in their area of strength will actually elevate the entire team and open more opportunities.

Power Struggle

Some people see power as a limited resource. They think, “If I give my power away there won’t be any more left for me.” And for these people, power may lend them their position, authority and reputation. But power is not a “zero sum” commodity. Power multiplies when you share it. Just as a snowball rolling down the hill gains momentum, influence and size, so will the power you give to others. Look back over your experiences and remember the people who have empowered you.

Consider whether empowering you lessened their power or grew their influence. Then, begin to identify specific individuals and ways you can give power to them.

Resistance to Change

Some people just don’t like change. And, empowered people are change catalysts because they put their uniqueness, learning and skills to action to advance and improve the work that they do. This can be unsettling. Yes, this brings change. But, change is necessary. Organizations must be changing and innovating to keep up with the demands of not only today, but tomorrow as well.

If you have a hard time with change ask yourself why. Do you like to stay in control? Are you afraid of uncertainty? Then remind yourself that change brings growth and growth brings a better future. Change is a very good thing.

Lack of Time and Intentionality

Sometimes we have no other reason why we aren’t empowering others except that it isn’t our priority. We just don’t think we have the time to do it. We are too busy managing and we forget to lift our eyes and look to the future. People cannot stay where they are forever. Leaders need to empower others to keep innovating and implementing, experimenting and executing.

Remember, leadership without empowering isn’t really leading at all. Block time off on your calendar for regular one on one meetings and team meetings. These should not be task or review oriented. Although, that type of meeting is important, this time should be reserved for getting to know your people and identifying areas in which you can empower them. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Goal Setting Tips

Amanda Dreher - Monday, June 20, 2016

Written by Dr. Liz Selzer


Strategic goal setting and well thought-out growth plans are critical to a structured mentoring program. They allow your progress and the overall initiative to be evaluated on concrete terms related to growth and progress. If goals are not set, it is difficult to ascertain whether the program was beneficial for the individuals and the organization beyond the positive evaluation of a relationship that went well. Growth plans and goal setting aren’t difficult to create as long as you have a framework and encouragement to do so. Here are a few easy tips:


1) Just do it: Don’t just read or talk about what you want to do—put compelling goals and plans in place so that action can occur.


2) Tailor it to the specific mentee: Use learning techniques and methods that best suit your mentees’ learning styles, skills, talents, strengths, and organizational roles.


3) Build in accountability: Mentors should do their best to avoid judgment, control, and ownership of the mentees’ issues. What mentors can provide is the accountability of being there regularly to discuss both progress and challenges. Mentors cannot do for mentees what mentees must do for themselves. Help mentees recover from commitment failures and move forward through encouragement by reminding them that you believe in them. What makes people successful is self-discipline over time, supported by accountability.


4) Focus on strengths: Buckingham and Clifton highlight the importance of working in your area of strength more than in your weaknesses, pointing out that people grow most in their areas of strength. So, when possible, mentors can help mentees work in their areas of strength and surround themselves with people who are strong in their areas of weakness. Appreciation of strengths can be synergistic as everyone, acting in their “sweet spot,” produces passion and increases productivity.


Setting SMART Goals

Amanda Dreher - Monday, June 20, 2016

Written by Dr. Liz Selzer



Taking strategic goal setting a step further, utilizing SMART goal criteria has become an industry standard. Research shows that goals created using these criteria are met more often than those goals that aren’t SMART. Use the acrostic S-M-A-R-T to evaluate whether your goals are written in a compelling manner:


- Specific: A goal needs to be specific in order to develop concrete steps that will lead to it. Just saying, “I want to be a better athlete” doesn’t tell anyone how to actually become a better athlete. Rather than saying, “I will train so that I can run a half-marathon,” lay out some specifics like, “I will run 10 miles 5 days per week for the first month.” The specific goal must also be applicable—“I will put together a timeline of runs leading up to a scheduled half-marathon” is more appropriate than “throwing a shot putt four times a week” for actually getting ready to run a half-marathon.


- Measurable: A goal needs to be measurable or you will never be able to assess if you are achieving it. Progress toward the goal “I will become a better speaker” can be tracked easily if you say, “I want to become a speaker whose evaluations from attendees are rated good or very good for 80% of the respondents. And I will use an outline rather than reading word-for-word from a script.” It will be easy to determine whether or not these goals were met.


- Achievable: A goal needs to be challenging, but not defeating. It needs to stretch the mentees, but not be so far out of their reach that they don’t even try to achieve it. Sometimes a goal can be more achievable if they are given more time to accomplish it, or if it is broken down into smaller pieces. “I’ll earn my PhD next week” is clearly unachievable, but “I will earn my PhD in five years,” or “I will apply for a PhD program next week” may be achievable.


- Relevant: A goal must be applicable and meaningful to the mentee. If mentees are dragging their feet, it often may be because the goal is not relevant to them. Listening carefully to your mentees and helping them craft a meaningful goal they are motivated to complete will generate better results and more satisfaction. Unfortunately, some mentors help craft goals that would work for them rather than for the mentee. Since the mentee is a different person with different experiences and skills, that transfer does not always work. Mentees should take the lead in the specific aspects of the goal so that the goal is meaningful to them.


- Time-bound: A goal needs a clear endpoint or it may never be accomplished. Without a deadline, a goal is easier to delay. Keep in mind that the timeframe can be adjusted if life events make the attainment too difficult. Simply adding a date will make a goal time-bound—“I will start a carpool ” becomes “I will start a carpool by the end of next week.”

Why and How to Adjust Mentoring Goals

Amanda Dreher - Monday, June 20, 2016


Written By Dr. Liz Selzer


Have you noticed that your mentee has been dragging his or her feet while working toward the goals he or she has set? Are you confused by this since it seems you agreed on the goals together, and that your mentee at that time seemed ready and motivated to move forward?


Goals should be inspiring. When written in the SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), they should be easy to work toward in a timely fashion. If you are noticing a lack of enthusiasm, numerous and frequent excuses for not completing the goals, or your mentee seems uncomfortable when you discuss his or her progress, then you need to see if the mentee’s goals should be adjusted. Changing goals is not a sign of failure or lack of dedication but actually the mark of a mentor who cares about the success of the mentoring relationship.


Often mentees are nervous to tell their mentors that their goals are not inspiring them to action. It helps if you as a mentor are open to adjusting goals so they really fit what the mentee hopes to accomplish. A clear and open discussion will help mentees feel comfortable in adjusting the goals so they are motivating, resulting in more progress toward their personal and professional growth. So how do you go about figuring out where the adjustment should be focused? Here are a few tips:


Where to look:

- One of the first areas to assess is whether or not the goal is attainable. Often mentees are not as motivated to complete a goal if they see it as too difficult (they will not know how to start working on it and may feel too defeated to move forward).

- The flip side may also be true, that the goal seems too easy (they will procrastinate because it isn’t challenging and doesn’t give them much of a sense of satisfaction to complete it).


What to do:

- If the goal is too difficult, you can either make the time longer to accomplish the goal, make the goal smaller, or break the goal down into even smaller chunks so it is easier to reach.

- If the goal is too easy, either shorten the time to accomplish it, or increase the difficulty.


Where to look:

- The second place to focus is on the relevance of the goal. Sometimes mentees agree to goals because they think that is what their mentor wants, but the goal is not truly relevant and meaningful to the mentee. If goals are not meaningful, mentees will lack the needed motivation to complete them.


What to do:

- Have a discussion with your mentee about what they are passionate about related to their growth objectives. Focus on the energy that produces. Assure the mentee that you are not tied into any of the specifics of the goal and that you just want to support his or her growth through encouragement and accountability.


The bottom line is to encourage honest and open discussion with mentees about their goals. Keep the dialogue open throughout your relationship. Let your mentee know that you are supportive of his or her efforts and are willing to adjust the process to help them accomplish all they hope to achieve.


Mentoring News in the Everyday

Amanda Dreher - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mentoring is all around us. We see the word thrown around on social media, the news and magazines. "Mentoring" has become a common buzzword. However, we don't often take the time to really consider how pervasive and impactful mentoring relationships really are. Let's take a quick peek at a few recent headlines to see how Mentoring is affecting our everyday.



“Bill Russell: We are nothing without our mentors”

by Bill Russell at



“Mentoring Programs Aim to Increase High School Graduates”

by Alexandra Pannoni at



“Obama, basketball star Stephen Curry team up on mentorship PSA”




“Sheryl Sandberg on Finding Your Mentor”

by Norah O’Donnell at



“European Summit on Mentoring”


Reciprocal Mentoring: Redefining the Mentoring Relationship

Amanda Dreher - Monday, May 23, 2016


“We don’t have enough senior people to put together a mentoring initiative, but we know we need it. What should we do?” Reciprocal Mentoring


 “We want to make mentoring available to all of our staff but don’t know how that will work. What can we do?” Reciprocal Mentoring


 “We want to create a learning community, one where people learn and share learning with others on a regular basis. How do we do that?” Reciprocal Mentoring


What is reciprocal mentoring?

Reciprocal mentoring is a relationship structure that harnesses the power of mentoring into a mutually beneficial relationship where each participant takes turns being the mentor and the mentee. Since much of the power of mentoring lies in the accountability and encouragement, both participants can be trained to be in both roles. This can double the potential for learning without doubling the number of participants. The mutuality of reciprocal mentoring breaks down barriers and prejudices, allowing for mentoring relationships to cross generational, global and gender biases.

Training and setting appropriate expectations are key to making this work, but once people understand the process, it moves forward quickly. The beauty of reciprocal mentoring is that it can be done in any environment because it doesn’t rely on expertise or seniority. In this way, it involves more of your staff, raising engagement levels of a broader base in your organization. Mentoring becomes a benefit, not an obligation. Experts can still give their expertise, but this frees them up to do that with more people (since they are not tied into just one mentoring scenario). It can exponentially increase the effectiveness of your mentoring efforts


How do we do this?

In past mentoring structures, the relationship has often been hierarchical with the mentor giving the mentee advice, expertise and wisdom. With reciprocal mentoring, both people in a mentoring pair serve as mentor and mentee. Sometimes they switch off every other meeting, sometimes they hold both roles in the same meeting. In the mentor role, they hold each other accountable and give each other encouragement and feedback on their goals process. In the mentee role, they work on goals and process learning. Both brainstorm where the mentee can find experts, resources and role models to work with to promote their learning (these things do not have to be provided by the mentor). The bottom line is that each person has someone in their corner encouraging them to grow personally and professionally in an integrated process.


Case Study: The Network of International Christian Schools (NICS)

When the CEO of NICS came to me, his genuine concern was evident on his face. The turnover rate for his teachers was extremely high. And while this was hurting their bottom line, his focus was truly on his teachers well-being. He wanted his teachers to feel valued. He wanted them to know they were important to NICS. He thought that a mentoring initiative would help toward this end, but there were so few senior teachers to be considered as mentors that giving all of the newer teachers a mentor was just not possible. As we talked, the answer became clear: Reciprocal mentoring. By using reciprocal mentoring, we were able to include all of the teachers in a mentoring relationship. The mentoring pairs took turns. One week a person would be a mentor. The next they would switch roles and that person would now be the mentee. Because the power of mentoring is in the accountability and encouragement, we found that with training and structure, these relationships were very successful. NICS reported a reduction in turnover and the teachers reported feeling valued and glad they were a part of NICS’s mission.


Written by Dr. Liz Selzer


9 Criteria to Define Success

Amanda Dreher - Monday, May 23, 2016

MLT is honored to be working with and sponsored by Dr. Richard Caruso and the Uncommon Individual Foundation (UIF). As a serial entrepreneur, Dr. Caruso has worked through UIF and his various businesses to have a hand in changing the lives of numerous people. As a result of his efforts, he was awarded Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006. The following are the criteria he has lived by which have driven him to be the success he is today.


In his own words:


“When I first began my entrepreneurial journey, I still had a need for a comprehensive understanding and definition of individual personal success that I could share with others in pursuit of a new career. I knew that I had many years left in my professional life; it was far from over. I began to ask myself how I could define my career goals and decisions within a framework that would bring satisfaction and success.I laid out nine criteria for myself that I wanted to accomplish. The following list details the objectives I came up with as a framework for my career.


I wanted to:

1. Do something intellectually challenging

2. Work with leading-edge technology

3. Work with people I liked and respected, and who respected me

4. Work on something that would benefit mankind

5. Solve problems on a personal basis for my fellow man

6. Accomplish something important that hadn’t been done before

7. Create a vision that others could understand and follow

8. Create interesting career opportunities for others

9. If all the above criteria were fulfilled, be financially successful


To redefine myself through these standards, I set out to pursue a new career path that would allow me to make a positive impact. Now, I am continuing to take deliberate steps to fulfill these nine criteria as new opportunities unfold for me. I want to try to continue to make a meaningful difference in this world. While I recognize that many of my pursuits require my business and financial expertise, I strongly believe in the importance of helping others on their entrepreneurial journeys.


It is my sincere hope that these criteria will inspire you to engage your own personal liberty, take control of your life, and achieve your personal success and happiness by finding, understanding, and releasing the uncommon individual you were born to be. Believe me, you will not regret it.”


5 Misconceptions About Corporate Mentoring Programs

Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, March 16, 2016


The idea that mentoring is a key ingredient for employee growth, retention and engagement has caused many organizations to quickly adopt the idea of promoting a mentoring initiative. Too often, however, they go into it without the proper preparation and the end result is not at all what they had hoped for. The following 5 misconceptions are often the root of the dissatisfaction and frustration.


Misconception #1:  


Mentoring programs should just happen—it’s a natural process.

While mentoring is a natural process in that relationships occur with natural affinity, productive mentoring relationships benefit from training, structure and setting expectations. Unstructured, or natural mentoring will still occur in a learning environment, but coupled with a structured initiative, you will supercharge your efforts. 



Misconception #2:


Mentoring programs should be based on matching people who possess specific expertise with people who need that expertise for professional development.

This type of matching has worked and will continue to be effective if it fits the strategic goals of the organization and mentoring initiative. However, this is not the only criteria for matching pairs. Since the power of mentoring lies in accountability and encouragement (not just in a hierarchy of expertise), there are a number of matching paradigms that may actually work better for what you are trying to achieve. For example, mentor matches may occur across divisions to reduce divisional silos, or across gender lines to elevate women in leadership. 



Misconception #3:


Mentoring relationships are long term, lasting many years in some cases.

While informal relationships may continue for a lifetime, structured mentoring relationships are more effective if they last only six months to one year. This allows for multiple mentors throughout a career, resulting in multiple learning opportunities from multiple perspectives and skill sets. 



Misconception #4:


Having any mentoring program is better than not having one at all.

Without structure, training and setting appropriate expectations for the participants, mentoring initiatives can actually become a negative experience rather than a positive one. It is unfortunate when a potentially strong mentoring experience fizzles due to unclear parameters, unequal expectations, or a lack of training on how to really maximize the process for both mentors and mentees. 



Misconception #5:


Mentoring is a “nice to have” option to encourage personal growth.

Mentoring is more than a “nice to have,” it is a must. It is a bold yet accurate assertion that every organization should be utilizing the power of mentoring to maximize engagement, retention, productivity, strong corporate culture and career path growth. Mentoring utilizes your existing human resources, costs relatively little to implement, and creates measurable results. 


Mentoring is a powerful tool that every organization should utilize, but if done poorly it can have more of a negative affect than a positive one. Understanding the above misconceptions can springboard you to a place where you can apply mentoring to your current organizational goals thus making a real difference in the work experience and productivity of your employees and ultimately impacting the bottom line of your organization.


Written by Dr. Liz Selzer



Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, March 09, 2016

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I thought as I sat in the back of the classroom where the instructor had just informed us that finding a mentor was a requirement for the final year of the master’s program I was working through. It seemed a waste of my precious little time. Give me books and papers and I can crank through this program and get that coveted “piece of paper” as evidence of my academic accomplishment. But as life would have it, I could not graduate without this seemingly useless time waste, so a mentee I became. To my surprise, the perception of the softness of this learning method was quickly dispelled. I soon saw the often intangible value of mentoring as the most significant mode for truly learning critical personal and leadership development skills that no book or paper could have provided. I had to take a new and radical view toward this idea of “mentoring.”  


Mentoring has a rich history. It has been around as long as there have been people learning life skills and trades from others. The word mentor, with its origins in Greek mythology meaning a trusted advisor and friend, has been morphing over time to reflect new attitudes toward learning and personal development. Moving from the traditional hierarchical, top down type of relationship to one whose benefits are recognized now as more mutually beneficial, mentoring has become a synergy of perspectives, experiences and respect.


In an effort to capture the essence of this powerful tool for personal and professional development, a new understanding of what mentoring entails becomes imperative. It is not a stagnant exercise but rather one with powerful life. It is not one directional but vibrantly interactive. It is not about the mentor creating a “mini-me” but rather about helping a mentee bypass through their limitations, grasp onto their unique strengths, and power through to new growth activities.

The word “mentor” often has intellectual and emotional baggage for people, some helpful, some not as much. In an effort to jolt us out of any preconceived  notions of old paradigms, I encourage the use of a new term:MENTORICITY. That is, mentoring powered with electricity, simplicity, veracity, and authenticity.


Mentoricity = Mentoring +  


Electr - icity:

It is the spark to jump start significant life change and personal development that propels us forward.


Simpl - icity:

Although much of its beauty is in the simplicity of the process, the results are exponential.


Vera - city:

This approach drives personal development through the veracity provided by regular accountability and encouragement.


Authent - icity:

It increases our authenticity as a leader when we learn on a personal interactive level rather than a “one size fits all” process.


As a result of this super charged, radical view of mentoring, MENTORICITY has life, gives life, appreciates life, transforms life. Take hold of your opportunity for MENTORICITY. It will be the best personal and professional development decision you have ever made.


Written by Dr. Liz Selzer


Mentor Leadership Team




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