Thursday, January 15, 2015

Choosing the right mentor

Mission: A mission is defined as a specific task or assignment - which implies that it requires work in order to succeed. Likewise, entering into a Mentoring relationship is a mission. It takes a lot of work - on both the Mentor and Protégée's part. So you need to be clear on your mission - Why do you think you need a mentor? What do you hope to achieve in order to declare "Mission accomplished!"?

Oprah Winfrey said "A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself."

Empowerment: Prof Shawn R. Hitchcock* said, “A mentor empowers a person to see a possible future, and believe it can be obtained. It’s that feeling that someone is concerned about you, that they want you to succeed.”
So it is important that in seeking out a mentor, it must be someone with a positive outlook to life - theirs and yours. Without a positive outlook to their own life or feel motivated to move forward, how can he/she empower you? 


Networker: Your mentor should be someone who is a good "Networker."  

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn put it well: "One of the challenges in networking is everybody thinks it's making cold calls to strangers. Actually, it's the people who already have strong trust relationships with you, who know you're dedicated, smart, a team player, who can help you."  A good mentor should exemplify good networking skills.

Teacher: A good mentor must be someone you're willing to learn from. Like John Crosby said: "Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction."

Indeed nothing is learned until something is taught...and something is caught. So it's not enough for your Mentor to be a good "teacher," you also need to be a good/willing learner. 

Remember "Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere." ~Chinese Proverb

Optimistic:  You need to seek out and have a mentor who is an Optimist. Now that is not to say that the person should not be realistic, but like Helen Keller said: "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
This ties in with what Bob Proctor said "A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you."     


Reachable: Your mentor must be someone you have access to. It doesn't have to be 24/7, daily, weekly or even monthly but you need to be able to reach the person from time to time and you need to mutually agree on the frequency.

Face-to-Face meetings are encouraged but answers to questions or guidance can be provided by email or over the phone.


Wishing you a productive Mentoring relationship...and in time, if you're not already one, you'll become a value-adding mentor to others who come in contact with you.

Another good resource: http://franchisegrowthpartners.com/mentoring


Reference:
* http://mediarelations.illinoisstate.edu/identity/1213/nov/Hitchcock.asp

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Are you on the leading edge...

...or on the bleeding edge?

All of us have an edge* in life. And some of us also we want to be on the leading edge in our careers. And rightly so. As we know "Leading edge" refers to having the most advanced position in an activity.

The challenge is that in trying to do a lot and more, we stretch ourselves. In doing that, there is a high tendency to overstretch. When we overstretch ourselves and then stress ourselves and before long, you've gone over from the leading edge to what I'll call the "bleeding edge."

I believe that the best way of remaining on the leading edge is by being the best version of you...and doing your very best each and every time. As Oprah Winfrey said:
"Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."

As we start this brand new year, aim to be on the leading edge, not the bleeding edge. Do your best. Be your best. Give your best and you'll be the best you.

Welcome to your best year ever...may it be blest in every way. Happy New Year!

Footnote:
*An advantage - something we're better than others at.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ready, Set...

... Relax

As I thought about this piece, I contemplated sharing some tips about how we can prepare to make more strides professionally next year. In the same thought, or shall I say mid-thought, I decided that even I needed to relax...hence the title of this post.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lasting success...

...is one that outlasts you.

Women particularly work hard to move up in life. So if all your hard work starts and ends with you, it is a waste of time - yours and others. Why should anyone need to jump through all the hoops you've had to when you can help them through?

To truly have "successful success" it must be sustainable and that is possible when we learn to live by Michelle Obama's advice:

When you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed. ~ Michelle Obama

As this year winds down and we prepare for next year, start looking out for opportunities to be and remain a successful success...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rooster reality

Q: If a rooster lays an egg at the very top of a slanted roof, which side is the egg going to roll off on?

Take a moment to think of your answer before you continue reading...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Be a PAL

A lot of us aspire to become leaders and that is great. However, too many people wrongly assume that a manager or supervisor is a leader, and that can't be further from the truth. There are many differences between Managers and Leaders, but these three stand out for me:

Managers are process-focussed while Leaders are people-focussed. One of my former managers - who's a leader indeed once told me "take care of your people and they'll take care of the work." I've found that to be true over and over again.

 
Managers instruct while Leaders inspire - Leaders are visionary and inspire others to follow that vision while Managers are good at instructing people on what to do in order for the vision to be a reality. Managers work within a circle of power while Leaders operate with spheres of influence.

Being a manager is a career while leadership is a calling - the first time I read this it made sense and lined up with something I've always believed which is that the best way to get the best out of others (especially your reports) is to be a PAL (Passionate Authentic Leader)


When you are a PAL, you care for people and want what is best for them. In other words, your compassion for people is your passion. That passion keeps you in check so you are authentic at all times - telling them the truth on what they do well and what they can do better  that authenticity breeds trust and makes you relatable. Being real and relatable attracts others to you and they want to follow you...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Watch the effect of your EFFECT...

Have you noticed that a lot of people mix up their use of "affect" and "effect"? They are actually 2 sides of the same word...affect is a verb while effect is noun. For this piece, I'll focus on effect because effects affect a lot. Let's start with the meaning of "effect":
a "result: a change or changed state occurring as a direct result of action by somebody or something else"* or
"power to influence: success in bringing about a change in somebody or something, or the ability to achieve this."*

There are 6 things we need to watch closely - because they have a lasting effect on us and intentionally or unintentionally affect others too: 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ladder lessons...

A lot of us aspire to climb the corporate ladder and there's nothing wrong with that. There just a few things we need to learn about the ladder.

The first thing about climbing is that it has to start with a decision - your decision. As supportive as my husband has been and with all he's said and done to empower, the decision has still remained with me whether to proceed or not. Andrew Carnegie rightly said "You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he (she) is willing to climb."

2nd lesson: Doing is required. Ladders are stationary and cannot climb people - you know like our children climb us when they want to be carried or just played with. Just as no one can push you up the ladder, you need to get your hands out of your pocket on to the ladder. For those who may have gotten to the top in an "elevator" (or lift) e.g. by a parent, it is important to remember that what got you there will not keep you there. Each person has a part to play in their continued success.

The 3rd lesson I've learned is that our dressing matters... There are multiple dimensions to dressing. I've written quite a bit about physical dressing so I'll focus on the emotional and social dressing this time. Zig Ziglar said: "You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure." We all know what it means to be dressed for an occassion. I remember seeing a lady in her traditional outfit and children around asked "Auntie, are you going to church?"  Our mental and emotional make-up shows on the outside. If one feels like a failure, because they may have failed before, chances are that the person will act in fear like a failure and succeed in failing. We need to address and dress our minds to know that the fact that one has failed (one or more times) doesn't make the person a failure. Learn from the failure(s) and move on...

Destination is the 4th lesson. Before you start climbing and as you climb, you need to have a fair idea of where you want to end up. Otherwise, you may spend (many) years in school or at job and never find fulfillment because you don't know where you're headed. Learn from the wisest man who ever lived -
5 Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. 6 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.*
Because "we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."**
The bottom line is that:
"The Lord shows us how we should live,  and he is pleased when he sees people living that way."*** So when you follow God's guidance, step by step, your ladder will always be leaning on the right building...and you'll be pleased with your destination.

Sources:
* Prov 3:5-6 (Amplified)
** Prov 16:9 (NLT)
***Ps 37:23 (ERV)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Leading from behind...


When you hear about leadership, most times it's about being a visible and vocal "head" of a team. Lots of leaders want to be seen and take the credit for the good work their team members produce. however, the more I think about my leadership journey, the more I want to lead from behind.

Jack Welch the former Chairman and CEO of General Electric said:

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.
When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.

Growing others is something that happens mostly "in the dark"  - just as seeds develop roots in the soil where it's dark. It also takes a lot of patience. Imagine what would happen if you plant then dig up the seed everyday to check if it's growing? It will die before it takes root. So growing or developing others does not need to be broadcast to others and requires quite a bit of patience. The growth will show from the quality of fruit your team members produce. 

Nelson Mandela's advice is one every leader should take to heart:
"It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership."

Leading from behind for me is all about encouraging others to discover & express their full potential and also be there (behind them) to have their back i.e. provide cover.

It will be nice to hear from you what you think about "Leading from behind..." You can send me an email: empoweredwomenexcel@gmail.com or comment on this post.