“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”
A few years back, I was on an airplane headed to our corporate headquarters in California for a big presentation. I had just had my second child and been promoted into my first true managerial role. A lot of exciting change, and I was ready to tackle it. But, about 90 days into the new role, I realized I had more questions than I had answers. In true Type A fashion, I made a check-list on what I needed to do to figure out the answers to all my professional questions.
- Read a few books about career management and leadership – check
- Find a mentor that would have all the answers – ?
I quickly enrolled in our company’s mentor program. I was matched with another working mom a level above me. She was wonderful in giving me advice on how to balance work and my family as well as our corporate dynamics, but she lacked perspective on the retailer pressures we felt in the field.
Over time, I have learned that often you need different types of mentors for different situations.
My first work mentor was more of a “cheerleader”. She encouraged me by telling me I was doing a great job and was always optimistic no matter what situation I was facing.
But, I knew in order to grow in my career I needed to seek guidance from others that could help me navigate our corporate office and would give me honest feedback when needed (even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear).
My second mentor was a “connector”. I work in a remote office and needed help making connections within our corporate office. He was instrumental in helping me make those connections which, in return, helped me knock down a few roadblocks hindering my success.
But, my most influential mentor has been a great combination of a “coach” and “challenger”. From a “coaching” perspective, he has always been available to listen and help me figure out solutions for any business problem I was facing. He is about 5-7 years ahead of me in his career life cycle, so he has always used his experience to help guide me through my work related problems. But, the thing that makes me value him as a mentor the most is he isn’t scared to be my “challenger”. He lets me know if an idea just doesn’t make sense or if I am approaching a situation the wrong way. And, more times than not, he is right. In addition, he has always pushed me to be ready for the next step in my career.
Outside of work, I have found it important to have mentors that help me grow personally as well. Whether it be a couple at church that shares parenting advice with me and my husband or other successful full-time working moms that understand how to balance work and home, I lean on each of these people’s experiences and advice when dealing with new situations that life tends to throw my way.
Overall, my mentors have been so influential in both my career and personal life. Each mentor has a different role, but together they help me recognize my natural talents and abilities and push me to use those gifts to be the best employee, mom, wife, or friend I can be.
*Associate Director – Shopper and Retail Insights, Walmart & Sam’s Club – The Clorox Company
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search.