I make a lot of difficult, intense and uncommon decisions in turbulent fragile situations every single day.
To help guide my decisions for these daily scenarios, for my personal life and the direction of my organisation I have a team of extraordinary leaders I’ve placed around me who have permission to speak into my life and help inform and guide my decisions.
I had several criteria when selecting these mentors…
1. Great Families.
I looked at their family and assessed whether they had raised their kids well. Do they have a healthy relationship with their wife? What about their extended family who disagrees with them? Some people are great away from home, at work and in public but you can’t fake raising kids well for 20 years. You can’t fake being married for 20 years. I don’t have a family but I didn’t want to be guided by men who didn’t have this balanced well so that I didn’t compromise this area moving forwards.
2. Exceptional Business/Church/Ministry/Practise with Real Results
I looked at their professional work with their organisation and in their community and assessed it. As a loose rule I’ve thought a minimum of 10 years in difficult leadership positions is what it takes to develop and refine timeless proven principles, strategies that can be boiled down and passed on. Other factors was their work fresh and innovative? Did it have exceptional impact and outcomes? Was it run and maintained well? Was it intricate and sophisticated? I deploy these characteristics in my organisation and want to be guided by people who are far more successful and further down the road than my journey to effectively advise me.
3. Navigating Failure
It’s easy to find dirt on someone who is a public leader! I went and found out the dumbest things they’ve done and what they did to address it. Did they implement some strategy or mechanism or procedure so that they couldn’t fail the same way again? Did they deal with it honestly, with integrity, with humility? We all fail. Leaders fail as much as their position is high. Failure is a certainty. We fail in all kinds of ways in leadership because our exposure is broad and people are complex. In my few years of leadership I’ve made some awful decisions. I’ve breached my values, I’ve overestimated critical factors, miscommunicated, forgot paperwork, miscalculated costs, employed the wrong people. Paul Kelly says it best, “I’ve done all the dumb things”. I want to be guided by people who are
4. Tragedy & Triumph
I really wanted to be guided by men who had overcome some sort of intense tragic event. It’s easy to be great when the weather is fine. How you navigate through the storm is what separates the good from the great.
I purposefully chose 3 Christian men from different church backgrounds and theological frameworks. (I know this’ll sound ridiculous to my non-christian readers… but trust me in the Christian world there’s more differences between a presbyterian and a catholic than a Buddhist monk and an atheist high school teacher). One is a reformed baptist, another evangelical/contemplative, another pentecostal/emerging/progressive. They wouldn’t say this but members of those backgrounds would say the other is a heretic. I wanted to hear from the best from different backgrounds and perspectives inside Christianity. They also have
6. Quantity, Consistency and Focus
I have so many freakin crazy complex dramas that I could never discuss each crisis with each person. I have to consider who would be best to advise on a specific issue. It’d just be too much for any single person to hear it.