The Power of Observation.

I‘ve never developed a relationship with a mentor who took an interest in my career.”

Those words express the views of many of the participants in my most recent leadership study – lamenting they’ve never had a significant mentor at work. They feel this is a limiting factor to their development as leaders.

So what then can you do to learn leadership lessons when no one takes an active interest in your growth?

Cooperative Learning

Why not apply one of the aspects of cooperative learning – by observing others with whom you interact, and intentionally “learning from their examples.” And I would also say, from their “mistakes” – because all leaders make them.

I’m not talking about using these events to pass judgment, and smugly tell yourself you’re better. But rather, using your observations as opportunities to think about what works, and what doesn’t. Paying attention will give you some new ideas.

In this way, I’ve had many mentors over my lifetime – people who had no idea they were teaching me anything, but provided huge lessons on the right way to go about doing things. And, just as importantly, I’ve had an equal number or more, who’ve made me swear I’d never want to do what they’ve done or the way they’ve done it. Thankfully, bad examples can prove to be good examples of what not to do. You just need make sure you don’t repeat the behavior!

Having a mentor is great. But even if we don’t, we can learn something from everyone – if we just put in the effort to figure out what it is.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom.

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This article is based on the *’The Limiting Factors Leadership Study: A Critical Look at the Leadership Development Experience,’ copyright 2015, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, along with descriptions of many of our other research projects at . Find short insights on Twitter at #LimitingFactorsRPT

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