As published in the Telegraph-Journal, April 6, 2013
Dr. Thomas Mengel poses for a photo in his home. Photo: Viktor Pivovarov/Times & Transcript
Dr. Thomas Mengel is a man who wears two hats – he is a professor in leadership at Renaissance College (University of New Brunswick) and he is also a consultant trainer and coach in project management, strategy and leadership with his own consulting company, Reiss Profile Canada. Regardless of which hat Thomas is wearing, he is always connected to his passion of helping people realize their potential.
Two key influences shaped his vision and mission. In 1990 he read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and was captivated by the belief that everybody can discover their personal values and meaning. In 2010 he was exposed to the Reiss Profile and was particularly intrigued by its focus on assessing an individual’s personal values, motivation and goals as a basis of enhancing personal fulfilment and professional performance. He immediately recognized the significant potential of this tool and started gathering experience with the Reiss Profile before founding Reiss Profile Canada last year. Thomas now develops and markets personal, career, team and leadership development solutions based on the Reiss Profile.
I began our conversation by asking Thomas what happened in 2012 that encouraged him to found and launch his company.
A: The short story is that I started using the Reiss Profile in my leadership teaching and in my consulting.
I’ve always been very interested – and a firm believer in – people being at their best if they can work alongside their motivation. So, right from the start in the process of coaching, consulting and teaching people, I looked at how to help people identify their values and motivations and how that translates into not just their personal satisfaction and happiness, but how it improves performance.
Q: What makes the Reiss Profile different from the other assessment tools?
A: In the ’90s Steven Reiss, who created the Reiss Profile, was a professor emeritus of psychology and psychiatry out of Ohio State University. He was intrigued by how many generations of philosophers and psychologists had been thinking about concepts of motivation without really doing a scientific study on what motivation is or what motivates people.
He came up with 16 desires that we all share. We measure how strongly an individual is aspiring to one of those 16 desires. When I first saw the Reiss Profile it just clicked. It directly falls into place in terms of what I was doing and it provided me with a tool that might help to identify what is it that really drives someone.
Q: What’s your motivation to do this work?
A: My key motivator is the desire (one of the 16) called curiosity. We are all curious to some extent, but some people are highly motivated by the need to understand, to get closer to truths and to learn.
Q: How does the Reiss Profile help develop leaders?
A: To be a leader in the traditional sense, in terms of leading others, you have to be a very effective leader of yourself. You have to demonstrate self-leadership.
We actually focus on what a leader’s strength is and where their potential challenges lie based on their motivation and values. Once these issues are identified, they get a much better understanding of how they can lead others.
Q: Can you give me an example of how the Reiss Profile is used by an organization?
A: Succession planning is one application. I had a client tell me, “I’ve not effectively been able to identify leadership potential for the future.”The Reiss Profile can help an individual leader or an organization identify their future leadership potential and not just in terms of skills, but the potential in terms of energy level, passion and values. That’s where we can create not just good performers,but excellent ones.
Q: What type of organization is most ready to develop their leaders?
A: Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why a book that correlates with my work over the last couple of years – helps answer this question. Sinek says there are organizations that have a clear understanding of why they do what they do. In my experience, organizations that have a clear understanding of what their values are and what their rationale is will be more interested in using leadership tools and approaches that help them be more effective.
Q: One question I ask everyone I interview is to finish the following sentence:”A leader’s job is to ”
A: A leader’s job is to help people tap into their own motivation and values to be able to make a difference at a high level.
Q: What do you believe is the connection between being authentic and being a strong leader?
A: You can be most effective if you are authentic, sticking to your own values, style and so forth. It goes back to self leadership – you need to know what drives you, what your values are and what you stand for.
Q: What would you say is the most under-utilized leadership skill?
A: I think listening is one. The increased speed of our life makes it even more difficult to just be comfortable with a moment of silence. I’ve often seen people asking questions and – if an answer doesn’t come up within just a few seconds – they start answering it themselves. I see that with my students.
Q: What books should every leader read?
A: There are tons of books. In the last twenty years I have read three books that have influenced me. The first is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – it’s about what drives us, what is man’s motivation. Frankl’s response would be we have a need to discover meaning in everything that we do. The second book, Who am I by Steven Reiss, has been an eye-opener for me. He has identified a way, to some extent, of getting a better sense of what are our values are. And then the third one is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
Dave Veale is a leadership coach and founder of Vision Coaching in Saint John. He can be reached by email at Dave@ VisionCoachingInc.com or via Twitter @Dave_Veale . To read past columns and watch videos go to LeadershipUnleashed.ca .