Doug Lawrence is an International Certified Mentor and holds two Mentor Certifications; Certificate of Competence – Mentor and the Certificate of Competence – Journey Mentor from the International Mentoring Community. Doug is the only one to hold the Certificate of Competence – Journey Mentor in the world today. Doug served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for 25 years retiring in February of 1999 at the rank of Staff Sargent. He has been involved in the certification of mentors since 2009 when he first partnered with an organization to provide mentor certification based on knowledge. Doug has now partnered with an expert in certification to provide a certification for mentors based on competence.
Doug is a volunteer mentor with the Sir Richard Branson Entrepreneur Program in the Caribbean and with the American Corporate Partners in the United States working with military personnel in their transition from military life to civilian life. He also works with Futurpreneur in Canada to provide mentorship to entrepreneurs. His approach in all of these situations is to be mindful of their mental well-being and to work with them to find solutions that best suit their needs.
Doug’s Practice of Mentoring continues to grow and has resulted in his accumulation of 2,200 hours of mentoring (in person and virtual), 235 hours of speaking opportunities and 672 hours teaching others how to effectively mentor. He is recognized as a thought leader in the mentoring space. He has been working with researchers to examine the role of mentoring as a support for those struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His experience in law enforcement coupled with working with people as a mentor who are suffering from PTSD has afforded him a unique view of mentoring and PTSD. His personal story is one that is compelling and it fuels his passion about wanting to help others.
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Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Doug Lawrence: It all started with growing up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan. Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police use to visit our farm while on patrol and I get to know them from that experience. I decided that I wanted to join the police force and shortly after graduating from high school, I did just that. I was fortunate or so it appeared to have a great career in the police force. I got to be posted to places all over Canada and it was at one of those locations that I met my wife to be. We were together for 43 years and I recently lost her to cancer.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Doug Lawrence: When I think back over the years there were a number of people that helped me get to where I am today. There is one person that stands out amongst all the others though and that was my wife Debra. She was supportive no matter what I was experiencing work-wise. We would be moved quite often to a new location and she would have to leave behind her friends and in some cases, she would leave a job that could have resulted in a career and she did this with no complaints.
I was not the greatest person to be around as time went on as I began to experience PTSD. I didn’t know it at the time, but I do now after all my research for my book. Debra and our two children became the support structure that was missing in the organization. They saw the real Doug they just needed to get me out of the ugly shell of a person that I was becoming. Debra was always standing by my side when we were doing mentor training and would offer those key comments every so often that made me think and brought value to what we were doing.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. What’s the worst advice you received?
Doug Lawrence: My original plan was to develop and implement a mentoring software solution. My mentor at that time was driving me to find the funding for this software solution. We spend countless hours researching and visualizing what that would look like. We even had conversations with a large software company that had a solution that they were not ready to take to market. When we spoke to investors they kept saying that we were trying to reinvent the wheel.
I got the message loud and clear after several refusals but my Mentor did not and he wanted to keep going. When I look back on that time it would have been better to focus on leveraging what was there for solutions rather than developing my own. There was a lot of lost time and creativity that I won’t get back.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Doug Lawrence: When I think of resilience my wife and children come to mind. They provided me with coping skills that I needed to weather the PTSD storm and become the person that they knew was inside of me at that time. These coping skills could be mental, emotional, and physical in nature.
“Resilience is the ability to bounce back after being subjected to trauma and stress.“
In the work that I do with mentoring I see a lot of people trying to develop resilience to get through every day and not always being successful in doing so.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Doug Lawrence: There would be three things:
- The creation of an independent body for the certification of mentors – https://www.internationalmentoringcommunity.com
- Mentoring being identified as part of the support structure for mental health
- Mentor certification based on competence
Having an independent body for mentor certification was a vision that I had back in 2009.
Delegating is part of being a great leader, but what have you found helpful to get your managers to become valiant leaders as well?
Doug Lawrence: Having trust in my managers was one of the most helpful things that I could do for them. Not giving them all the answers was another thing that was most helpful. At times it was frustrating for them – but if I could kick start their critical thinking skills and get them to think their way through to a solution then that was success for both of us. I recall having staff come into my office with a problem and wanting just the answer.
I would ask questions that would guide them to the answer and they would get up to leave realizing that they had solved the problem themselves with a little guidance on my part. I recall an employee saying that there must be some magic dust in my office as they come with a problem and leave with an answer that they came up with – or so it seemed.
How important do you think it is for a leader to be mindful of his own brand?
Doug Lawrence: There are two things that a leader needs to be mindful of regarding branding.
The first is the company brand that he/she has developed. It will no doubt be driven by his personal brand as he/she would have their stamp on what the company looks like. We all too often however forget about how much influence we have from a personal perspective on our company. When I look at my own company that is focused on mentoring and has now changed its brand somewhat to address the mental health space it is important that I make sure that my personal brand does not interfere with the organization’s direction.
I am constantly checking to see what impact the new brand has on the organization and on me as the leader.
How do you monitor if the people in your department are performing at their best?
Doug Lawrence: It is important as a leader to build relationships with your employees. I recall telling a senior government leader that they needed to take the first 30 minutes of their day to walk around and speak to as many employees as they can. They needed to build that relationship that included a personal touch – how many goals did Johnny score in the hockey game last night.
The leader also needs to be able to use effective communication which involves listening and hearing what your employees have to say and being non-judgemental. The whole aspect of “monitoring” employees can be somewhat intrusive and I find that if I place a level of trust in what they can and are doing and that it is okay to make mistakes then employees will flourish and grow.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Doug Lawrence: Make sure that you are passionate about the dream or vision that you have. I think back to my vision/dream in 2009 of creating an independent body for mentor certification. Understand that there will be times when the road is rocky and you have no sense of direction. Keep coming back to the vision/dream and re-focus. I am mentoring a few entrepreneurs and the biggest task is keeping them positive and focused on moving forward. It may not be at the pace that you had wanted but every step forward is a step closer to success.
What’s your favorite “leadership” quote and how has it affected the way you implement your leadership style?
Doug Lawrence: When we stop learning we stop leading. This has been one of my mantras for many years. I learn from my mistakes and I learn when things go well. I learn that NO is actually a word in the dictionary and I need to use it more often.
I get my staff to see that it is okay to fail as long as we take away something from that experience. I get my staff to reflect on things that they do by asking three questions:
- What went well,
- What didn’t go well and
- What will we do differently next time. With mentoring we never stop learning.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Doug Lawrence for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Doug Lawrence or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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