Five Secrets to Being a Great Mentor—From Someone Mentored by the Best

Rick Wartzman
Rick Wartzman

In his latest online column for Time magazine, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman writes about the new book by Bob BufordDrucker & Me.

Set to be released next week, Drucker & Me “recalls the friendship forged between Drucker, known as the ‘man who invented management,’ and Buford, a cable television pioneer from Tyler, Texas, who later dedicated his considerable intellect and energy to social entrepreneurship and the building of America’s megachurch movement,” Wartzman notes. He adds that Drucker & Me “conveys many management lessons. . . . But above all, the book is a wonderful guide on how to be a mentor, filled with useful takeaways.”

He then shares, and elaborates on, five of them: A model mentor doesn’t just give answers; he challenges his student to think for himself. A model mentor is always fully present. A model mentor doesn’t shy away when the professional blends with the personal. By truly listening, a model mentor can help introduce a level of clarity that would likely be unattainable otherwise. And a model mentor gives permission, encouragement and applause—but also demands accountability.

Wartzman concludes by recognizing that not only did Drucker act in these ways with Buford but that, Buford, in turn has acted in these ways himself.

“I know this firsthand,” Wartzman writes. “Although we, too, are from different worlds—I’m a Jewish guy from Baltimore, a generation younger than Buford, and much more a basketball than a football fan—we share many core values. And while I would never claim to be as close to Buford as he was with Drucker, his guidance and friendship have been indispensable. He has urged me, along with my staff, to sharpen the Drucker Institute’s mission, leading us to where we are today: ‘strengthening organizations to strengthen society.’ He has pushed us to think bigger and aim higher.”

Royalties from Drucker & Me will be donated to the Drucker Institute.