I have been fortunate in my career to have the opportunity to work with a broad spectrum of outstanding individuals, each having their own unique value and challenges. I have had the benefit of great mentors, who I still connect with on a frequent basis. I treasure the time they share with me.
As a result of these relationships, I am acutely aware of the vulnerability these interactions create. Conversely, I am always honored when someone seeks me out for guidance. It’s not being viewed as the expert that makes me proud—it is the creation and fostering of the bond. I know I have imparted some wisdom to my protégés, but they give me much more. I get a front row view into their aspirations, dreams and foibles. I get the privilege of helping them find their path to success and watch them glow with their newly (or re-found) passion.
For me, the first meeting with a new acolyte is the best. It is the setting of the stage or what is to come—a first date of sorts. They want to impress me with knowledge, dressed all in a shiny new outfit. The excitement of learning about each other is new and interesting. This quickly segues into the essential building block, the pillar of trust. This may take several sessions and work to develop, or it may come quickly and organically. But without out trust, the relationship will never move forward.
I enjoy helping others to learn what drives their own interests
and passions. However, I’ve seen too often where a mentor relationship becomes a manipulative relationship. This is such a disservice to you and the apprentice. The damage can go beyond your direct relationship with this individual, and harm other relationships at work if your colleagues are aware.
I’ve learned that encouraging and supporting the development of resiliency is foundational; rarely is the path a straight and narrow one. The course for future leaders never follow the same trajectory. After all technology, regulations and social constructs are not as they were years ago when those currently serving as leaders began their journey.
Maintaining these connections are affirming. As we cycle through our careers, the degree of connection may change. But every time we reconnect, it reminds me of what I love about my work; why I chose my profession.
Other suggested reading:
When Mentoring Goes Bad
The Speed of Trust