“Lift as you climb.” That quote has been a constant throughout my career. I pride myself on my ability to build efficient and highly effective teams. I am also a firm believer that every supervisor should invest in their people and help them achieve their professional goals. By doing so, you will find that the staff will in turn help the organization achieve its business goals. But what about those that aren’t members of your team? Do you take the time to mentor those who don’t work directly for you or your organization?
Recently I was asked by the National Association of Black Accountants Tennessee State University Chapter to mentor a student. While I am a graduate of the historic Tennessee State University, I am not an accountant. Even as I said “yes,” I hesitated and thought “what could I offer this student?” But then I remembered that some business practices are universal. A great resume is always needed. Interviewing and presentation skills must be honed. A strong handshake is a must. And sometimes when more technical or specific advice is needed, mentoring means being the bridge between the mentee and a practitioner.
But quite often mentoring someone means being a listening ear, a sounding board, a cheerleader, or giving them a stern pep talk. Everyone needs to feel like someone is in their corner. We all want people to bounce ideas off or to have a glass of wine with after a horrible day. Think back over your career. How many people have been a mentor for you? Just because you didn’t formalize the title didn’t make it less a mentorship. Everyone needs help climbing the ladder of success.
Now take a moment and think about who you are mentoring. If that list is short or nonexistent, remember the quote at the beginning of this blog: “Lift as you climb.” Reach out to your professional organization and inquire about mentoring programs. Your company may have an executive mentorship program. Or I’m sure your alma mater has many students who could benefit from your expertise. Reach back. I promise you will gain more than you give.