Mentoring is about making an investment in people. My leadership path has been shaped by the investments of some amazing women and men, and from the teachers who nurtured me to the coaches who guided me to the co-workers and friends who challenged me in my toughest days, there was one characteristic that they shared: courage.
Early in my career, I worked for a wonderful man who always said that if you leave the room without the courage to speak what you believe, then you have just agreed with whatever was said. On two separate occasions, I worked for women, both younger than me, who when faced with an unfair (and unethical) situation chose to leave what was their dream job. Both left without drama or indignation and went on to lead amazing careers because they had the courage to draw the line.
The truth is your first mentor is typically your parents. There is no doubt that I inherited some real courage from my mother, a woman who nearly lost her job for getting married and was then forced to quit when she announced she was pregnant with me. Imagine how recent that is in our past. I will go ahead and date myself and say welcome back to 1970. But it takes a lifelong journey of influencers to be able to stay true to who you are.
I'm lucky enough now to be leading a large team of talented men and women, and I pray every day that some of the lessons I have been taught about courage will stick with them. I also learn every day from my two young sons what it means to have courage, have fun and love how you spend your time. I try to take those tenets to work with me, too.
Without people who were willing to invest in my success and help cultivate the courage I needed to succeed, where would I be? This frightening thought is the primary reason I joined WISE and the WISE Within program. I know I was blessed and lucky to learn from some great leaders. I also learned a lot from the weakest ones. Being a mentor is not only a privilege, but our responsibility, particularly as women. Taking time to invest in others and help shape their paths is the greatest reward we can receive as leaders.