Monday Morning Mentoring : Ten Lessons to Guide You up the Ladder

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-07-01
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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Everyone who wants a fulfilling career needs a mentor -- someone who has seen it all before, someone who can share hard-won experiences and teach valuable lessons. In this expanded and enhanced version of his best-selling book, Monday Morning Leadership, David Cottrell packs all of the wisdom of his wide-ranging business experience into this inspirational story. Cottrell introduces us to Jeff, a successful corporate manager who has hit a major wall. Jeff has been leading his team, quarter after quarter, to great sales and better profits for several years -- until now. The tricks that used to work wonders have lost their magic; Jeff is in a slump and is at a loss to find his way out of it. Overworked, stressed, and feeling that his personal and professional lives are at risk, Jeff reaches out to the father of a college buddy, a retired and tremendously accomplished former executive named Tony. Tony and Jeff agree to meet every Monday for ten weeks to work through Jeff's problems and get his career back on track. In the course of these intimate sessions, Jeff discovers the secrets of real leadership: "Until I accept total responsibility -- no matter what -- I will not be able to put plans in place to accomplish my goals." And, "My success is the result of making better choices and recovering quickly from poor choices." Tony leads Jeff through tough lessons in how to manage his people, how to manage his own time, how to manage his superiors, and how to escape from "management land." Most of all, Jeff learns that his success is intimately bound with the success of his people and that tolerating lackluster performance in himself and others on the team only leads to discontent from his most prized and productive employees. Through Jeff's mentoring sessions, the reader meets a character of integrity who dispenses homespun but effective wisdom. Spend time with Tony and Jeff at their Monday morning meetings, and you will find yourself on the road to becoming a better leader and being more successful at work.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1(6)
Getting Past Splat
Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
Escape from Management Land
Tough Learning
The ``Do Right'' Rule
Hire Tough
Exits and Entrances
Do Less or Work Faster
Buckets and Dippers
The Gift of Your Legacy
Epilogue 166(9)
Acknowledgments 175(2)
About the Author 177(2)
Five Ways to Bring Monday Morning Mentoring into Your Organization 179


Monday Morning Mentoring
Ten Lessons to Guide You Up the Ladder

Chapter One

The First Monday

Getting Past Splat

It was a rainy, gloomy day when I left home for my first meeting with Tony.

Frankly, I was somewhat cynical about whether meeting with Tony would change anything at work. At best, time with Tony would probably make me feel better about how things were going. I guess I really doubted he could do much to change how I managed. After all, I had worked for years for one of the best companies in the world and had been to numerous management-development sessions. To no one's surprise, however, the impact of these highly touted training sessions rarely lasted more than a short time.

I had to keep reminding myself that if things were great, I never would have called Tony in the first place. The truth was this: I was at a crossroads in my career. Deep down I knew something was going to have to change, one way or another. "Get with it," I chided myself. "Executives all over the country ask for Tony's counsel. You should consider yourself fortunate he has time for you."

We had agreed to meet at eight-thirty. Because of the rain, I drove into Tony's driveway at eight-forty. Tony was waiting for me at the door, looking as if he had just stepped out of Gentlemen's Quarterly.

"Hello, Jeff, and welcome!" he said, extending his hand and pulling me toward him for a fatherly hug. "I am honored that you would take your time to come and see me."

Tony asked me to come in and gave me a quick tour. His home was incredible. It was large, with a warm ambiance. His wife had passed away a little over a year earlier, and he was proud to show me several pictures of them taken at locations all over the world. After the tour, he took me to his library, where he said we would be meeting each week.

There must have been more than a thousand books on his library shelves. I noticed several pictures of Tony standing with well-known business leaders whom I immediately recognized. Some of the pictures had been taken in the library where I was sitting. I must admit, I was a little intimidated.

After several minutes of catching up, he said it was time to get down to business.

"Your time is valuable, Jeff," he began, "so I think we need to set some ground rules if we're going to make the best use of our meetings. "With that in mind, I took the liberty of drawing these up while I was thinking about our sessions. See what you think."

He pushed a handwritten note across the table that listed three simple rules:

Ground Rules for Monday Morning Meetings

Start and finish on time.
Tell the truth.
Try something different.

Simple enough, I thought. I can live with those rules. Then I looked at Tony. "I can handle these. Let's get going."

"Okay then," Tony said. "Tell me what brings you here after all this time."

For the next hour, I did the talking, and Tony listened without saying much.

I began with my college graduation, the last time we had spoken to each other. I had been so excited about the future. Like most grads, I felt nothing could keep me from being successful. I was educated, energetic, and full of optimism.

For the first few years of my career, success came easily and promotions were rapid. I worked in sales for one of the most respected technology-manufacturing companies in the world. Then I was promoted into management -- my first big break -- and I loved it. Business was good. I went on great trips. I was involved in making some big decisions, and I learned a lot, early on.

My team was not top performing, but our results were acceptable, and more than respectable.

Some of the people on my team didn't have the drive I had, but business was so good, I didn't worry about them. Actually, I probably ignored performance issues that contributed to the problems I had now.

Oh, and I tried really hard to be "one of the guys." I wanted my team to like me and to want to work for me, so I frequently took them out for dinner and drinks -- and even shared some of the issues I was facing. At the time, it seemed like a good strategy. About that same time, I rated the job upper management was doing as far from acceptable. In fact, I even told my team that if we did our jobs like upper management did theirs, our company would go under. We all laughed about that.

Those were the good times. But over the next several years, business got tougher. Most of my team was still intact, but some of the performance issues I had once ignored were now affecting my division's performance in a big way -- and by "big," I mean they were becoming threats to my job.

I was working hard -- long hours -- but business indicators told me things were pretty bad. I wasn't very happy, and the people on my team weren't happy. Our results reflected our frustrations, and the unhappiness transferred over to my home life, as well.

"I looked you up, Tony, so I could learn from you," I said dejectedly. "I'm at my wits' end, and I just hope it's not too late for me to turn this ship around."

After listening for almost an hour, Tony finally started talking. "First," he said, "I know you think these problems and the situation you described exist only on your team. You could not be more wrong. There are few -- very few, if any -- leaders who have not faced the same issues you've just shared. I know I have.

"When it comes to leading people, there is no problem that is unique to you. Ask anyone with experience, and you'll discover they've faced the same issues, the same frustrations. So don't feel sorry for yourself. That's a waste of valuable time. Just make plans to make things better.

Monday Morning Mentoring
Ten Lessons to Guide You Up the Ladder
. Copyright © by David Cottrell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Monday Morning Mentoring: Ten Lessons to Guide You up the Ladder by David Cottrell
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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