As the sixth of ten children in a close-knit family, I learned very early in life to treat people the way I want to be treated. I also understood that everything had to be shared—toys, clothes, trust, and the knowledge that comes from experience. Perhaps most importantly, I learned that thoughtfully resolving conflicts is essential in order to grow—and grow up.
I have been blessed with a number of wonderful mentors over the years who believed in me. Their confidence was an inspiration and the spark that lit my desire to test myself and see just how far I could go. Most of my mentoring relationships have been informal, and the result of a leader watching me struggle and wanting to help me succeed. I owe these friends a tremendous debt for their generosity of spirit.
An effective mentor isn’t afraid to be direct, honest, and tough. I have made the most progress when I’ve had a sounding board, a person willing to be perfectly frank and tell it like it is; someone who appreciates unique strengths but also understands weaknesses.
The best mentors have been those who were willing to tell me when I’d made a mistake and how i could have done better. Their honesty and integrity made me stronger. With their help and guidance, I became more open-minded and learned to never say no to an opportunity. I became a better student of the business and overcame obstacles through collaboration and by valuing the talents of those who surrounded me.
My teammates motivate me to succeed. I know they look to me for leadership, but I also want to be a mentor to them. I want to be a true advocate for their career desires and ambitions. If I can’t be their advocate, I owe it to them to tell them why and to do something about it. I don’t limit my mentoring to those I work with directly every day. I work with talented individuals across the organization who demonstrate leadership potential. I want to understand their challenges and seek shared solutions. It’s how we all learn and grow.