A mentor is a trusted guide, and mentoring is one of the most effective ways to pass on learning from one person to another. Throughout my life, I have had many wonderful, informal mentors to whom I am grateful. Some do not know that I consider them my mentors. All took the time to teach, to coach, and to share their wisdom and experience with me. They also expected that the gratitude that I felt not be expressed to them directly, but rather expressed through me acting as a mentor to others.
Any discussion of mentoring should start with our parents. Parenting is the most influential form of mentoring and my parents are my best mentors. They instilled in me, and each of my seven siblings, the importance of a goal-driven, purposeful life—balanced with having fun, and love, in our lives. We were given much responsibility at an early age, learned negotiation and compromise, decision-making and accountability, the need for effective teamwork, and leadership skills.
although I never had a formal mentor at work, or someone who specifically guided my career, I consider anyone who took an interest in my professional development, and anyone from whom I learned critical skills or knowledge, to be a mentor. My best mentors have been tough on me: not always easy to work with, or easy to listen to. They set high expectations. They taught me to be authentic to my own competencies and leadership style. They have been from different cultures, genders, ethnic backgrounds and generations. Above all, they took the time to teach or to advise me. It is up to those of us who want to continuously learn and improve to find people from whom we can learn, and to pass the gift of mentoring on to others.
Successful organizations create and sustain value within an ethical framework that includes respect for their people, an environment based on integrity and candor, and a culture of professional excellence. People in successful organizations make mentoring a pervasive part of daily management. I am fortunate to work in such an environment at ITT where our values of respect, responsibility, and integrity sustain a culture of diversity and inclusion, and encourage different ideas and opinions, all in the pursuit of excellence. Through mentoring, we sustain organizational success by passing on to others our corporate values and our value-creation capabilities.