Mentoring has always been an important part of my professional life, but the way I’ve interpreted and utilized the term has evolved throughout the course of my career. I used to follow the traditional definition and guidelines of what a mentor should be: someone a position or two higher in the company who is able to impart their knowledge and guidance based on their personal success and advancement.
When I took on my first general manager position at a Best Buy store in Michigan, I realized my personal definition of what a mentor should be was distorted. I was focused solely on finding answers from above; neglecting to see all that was going on around me and missing the opportunity to learn from others.
As I look back, some of my greatest mentoring and learning experiences have come from people at all levels of the organization, regardless of title or position. This realization has helped instill in me the belief that if you move past the titles and jobs, you can learn from everything and everyone. My view of mentorship is tied to what I can learn, not how much I know.
Once I stopped focusing on trying to know everything and became comfortable in the reality that I never would, I became a better mentor and a great deal happier. I make this a fundamental part of my role as a leader by continuously engaging with others throughout the company, whether it be through attending meetings with store managers, getting insight from customer service representatives or spending time in the field with retail employees. I believe that every individual has unique views and talents that play a pivotal role in the advancement of my own knowledge and success as an executive.
That fact remains vital in the personal responsibility I feel as a leader of Best Buy, as I believe it’s my job to not only understand the talents and perspectives of others, but also to help leverage them in strategic and inspiring ways that will help both the company and the employee reach his or her goals.