I started my career fresh out of college and will never forget my first manager. She was an amazing leader, mentor, friend, and one of the most sought-after people involved in decisions within the office. While I couldn’t pin it down at the time, and it took me many years and experiences with different friends and colleagues to figure it out, I eventually realized why she inspired me in such an impactful way. She was an excellent communicator — confident, positive, willing to be flexible, but also, she approached situations with an understanding of what needed to happen to keep business moving forward. She wasn’t afraid to provide constructive feedback, and she pushed me to try new approaches that were outside of my comfort zone, which was something I needed. All of these lessons I have continued to practice and apply throughout my career.
What Makes a Mentor?
While not everyone is born to manage, it is important to have people in our personal and professional lives who inspire us, listen to us, aren’t afraid to tell us something we may not want to hear, and encourage us to look at situations from a different perspective.
In today’s workforce, where individuals tend to change jobs more frequently than previous generations, mentor relationships are often informal and stem from a mix of people from various areas of our lives, including personal relationships, colleagues, and even general acquaintances. Fortune recently published an article around the importance of mentors, noting the benefits of utilizing the expertise of a broader group of admired individuals as one’s career progresses, rather than just one specific person. It is the different viewpoints that shape our perspectives and help us grow.
The Impact Mentors can have
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some incredible leaders over the past decade, and have been surrounded by inspiring people in both my personal and professional life. It has made me appreciate the impact colleagues, friends, and even acquaintances can have. It’s also taught me that when situations are difficult, or I am at a crossroad, it can be most beneficial to seek out the advice of a trusted individual who tends to look at situations differently, as that can often lead to the most positive outcomes.