Successful Leaders Don’t Materialize in Silos

I’ve received a wealth of advice throughout my life and career. Much of it I have carried with me as I traversed the path before me and worked to achieve my goals, both personal and professional. My approach to life has been to set goals (no matter how small) and to break them down into the smaller steps it would take to achieve them. I truly live by my personal philosophy of turning my dreams into goals, my goals into steps, and my steps into actions.

One of the best pieces of advice I have received came from my mother, whose words provided a solid foundation that I reference anytime I’m faced with adversity or find myself up against the proverbial brick wall: “The best way to conquer your fear, is to face it and then walk through it.

I have looked back upon these words many times, as I have struggled with trying to excel in my career and see to the welfare of my father who was suffering from dementia and needing full-time care. Faced with the struggle of making quality-of-life decisions for a parent was a challenge I was neither prepared for nor equipped to handle the demands of; yet I had no choice but to push forward. I had no choice but to face my fear of adequately meeting the demands of my father’s welfare, juggling the needs of my family, and managing the requirements of my career. Focusing on each decision, each day, and each new challenge one step at a time, while slowly walking my way through my fear of failure, proved successful.

While trying to climb the ladder in my career, my then mentor relayed the importance of contributing to your social capital: People not only want to work with smart people, they also want to work with people they like. Investing in your career requires that you create relationships within your industry, network, and office. There is real truth in the adage, “It’s not only what you know, but who you know.”

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask someone for mentorship. Mentoring is a two-way relationship, and most times mentors present themselves organically, through work and life events. But don’t be afraid to foster and create those relationships yourself. Ask for advice and guidance from peers and senior members in your field. Mentoring relationships with professionals at all levels in your field can provide fruitful exchanges of information. Mentoring provides opportunities, both personally and professionally.

A successful leader doesn’t materialize in a silo. Relationships, mentoring, and facing your fears help cultivate the characteristics of successful leaders in all industries.