Jack Welch once said, “Always be training your replacement.” This has always resonated with me for a number of different reasons. For one thing, while this is a radical piece of advice, it actually makes sense. Having a replacement enables you to move on to the next opportunity without concern that you will leave a void. After all, if you are the only one who knows how to do your job, then you’ll remain at that position until industry changes transport you to the take-out window at a large hamburger retailer.
More than that, this advice highlights two important parts of doing business today: leadership and mentorship.
As a twenty-year veteran of teaching, I can tell you that there are few things more exciting than hearing my students have gone on to not only achieve their goals, but have also passed that information on to someone else in their network. This is a key aspect of being a leader: your job is not only to help your team reach their potential, but, in some cases, to help a few of those team members reach beyond that. With technology today, this is even easier. Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn make it so much easier to facilitate mentorship by allowing us to keep up with those whom we’ve coached in the past and by allowing us to reach out to contacts we may have lost over the years.
However, being a mentor doesn’t mean you’re always positive and encouraging. I’ve had many mentors that have helped guide me in the right direction, but I’ve also had mentors that have taught me what I didn’t want. Both sides of this are important when having and being mentors because the key to being a mentor is brutal honesty. Part of a mentor’s job is providing valuable feedback that you may not always want to hear. “When you are screwing up and nobody is telling you about it,” Dr. Randy Pausch writes in his book The Last Lecture, “that means people, [including your mentor] have given up on you.”
I have had the wonderful opportunity to be a mentor for many people over my career, as a consultant and as a teacher, and I believe I have offered guidance to many. I still receive emails every once in a while from work associates and students that I have worked with, and it’s gratifying to see where they have managed to get to in their professional (and sometimes) personal lives. My advice? Seek out a mentor. We all need help on occasion to move to the next step in our career. These people can help you get there.
If you are interested in learning more about how Logixsource can assist you with mentoring and leadership, contact Heather Cartwright at firstname.lastname@example.org or Scott Savage at email@example.com.