I have been blessed with many experiences that shaped me for leadership. Growing up, my father and mother had careers that required long hours and frequent travel. Therefore, I was responsible for preparing dinner, cleaning the house and taking care of my younger brother. My mother was trained as a home economist and was a very good cook, so she shared many recipes. When she decided to pursue a career in radio and television media sales, I was able to jump in and help out our family. She was my first mentor and helped build my self-confidence at an early age. I learned to juggle many tasks, manage my time and work efficiently.
Many colleagues and friends have mentored me over the years, and I think it’s critical that both parties in the relationship take accountability for their roles. As a mentor, I prepare for each meeting to ensure that I’m asking the right questions and providing thoughtful feedback to each individual. In return, I expect individuals to come to our sessions with questions and topics that are important to their development. This year, I have engaged in a reverse mentoring relationship with one of our talented Hispanic employees. He’s helping me build a better understanding of his culture so we can provide a strong climate for Hispanics in our company.
When I am mentoring others, I challenge them to LEARN:
Lean into a situation and accept differences. To do this, you need active listening skills, adaptability, acute instincts and powers of observation.
Exude energy and enthusiasm. Create a consistent, positive climate.
Accomplish as much as you can every day. I counsel people to come into the office and pretend they’re going on vacation the next day. The result: They get more done.
Renew yourself daily. Make time for your mental, physical and spiritual health.
Note your triumphs and your mistakes. Write down the details and file them. Review the folder every so often so you don’t forget your foibles or your successes. You often learn more from your low points than your high points.
My goal is to foster a comfortable environment where people can thrive. I can think of no better way of promoting this type of environment than by having mentoring relationships that nurture the leaders of the future.