Being nominated for recognition as a “mentor-protégé” award is a humbling honor for certain. And while this is truly exciting, I would say the experience to again “pay it forward” is more meaningful and certainly more of an honor. Mentorship and coaching is a responsibility I take very seriously.
Mentoring, guiding, and coaching support have been a part of my leadership philosophy of “paying it forward” for the past 15 years of my career. The beauty lies in the effort and commitment of the mentee/protégé. My partnership with my mentee through WICT this year has been one of the most memorable relationships I have had the privilege of being a part of in many years. There were two key tenets I have taken away from this partnership. First – the skill of active listening for understanding and clarity is something I have had to and will continue to practice. It is so important in a mentoring relationship to listen, assess, process, and remove judgement. As a mentor, it is critical to provide the opportunity for the protégé to share their experience from their vantage point and to not jump in and immediately provide direction. The art of asking open ended probing questions affords the protégé the opportunity to gain their own clarity. That being said, the protégé needs to “do the work” and this is the second and most important (and most rewarding) take away from this partnership. My mentee was an eager learner and open to feedback and suggestion. During our relationship thus far, she has done ALL of the HARD WORK! She is a model protégé and I will be utilizing my experience with her to share with others I mentor who aren’t investing in the hard work it takes to learn, evolve, change, and grow. We tackled some very difficult and some very sensitive topics. She was able to take some strategies that she was comfortable with and try them for success. The beauty of our partnership was that it covered a wide spectrum of topics – career growth, networking, handling difficult situations, and developing leadership communication tenets.
I am so proud of her and quite honestly she had all of the elements inside of her! What I enjoyed and appreciated was her eagerness to learn and her willingness to challenge herself. She simply needed an aligned partner to guide, coach, and support her. Again she did all of the tough work. A lesson for us all!