Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
Update 1/29/24: Steve is no longer engaged in mentoring and coaching with my previous company, but our friendship continues. That mentorship doesn't go away because of a change in positions or business relationships. True mentorship is not something that is hired but is found, is given, and in some ways earned - just like the Trust and Respect that I talk about later. Careers may change. Where you live may change. But true friendships survive those challenges and many times flourish. The Power of a Mentor can be found in the IMPACT it leaves behind.
When I was promoted to the Executive Team where I work, the owner of the company requested that I find a mentor. Easily, two names jumped to the top of my list. One, I had known for some time, who had a dynamic personality and thrived as an entrepreneur and a leader. While he came across as a Type A personality type who was driven, he also was committed to his teams, empowering them for success and the growth of the individual. The other potential mentor, I had only recently met but he carried himself with grace and a calmness that seemed to make everyone at ease. He also had started and sold many businesses and was currently serving on our Executive Advisory Board.
Choosing Your Mentor
As I considered both potential mentors, my initial inclination was to go with the person who I knew longer who also seemed to be a more natural fit. I knew we already had a connection based on our history as we had similar interests and personality. But, as I thought deeper, I realized that I don’t need more of me, I needed to expand and grow so that I could bring in additional perspectives as well as stretch myself to be more than a dynamic leader but also to become a servant leader. On that day in 2013, I could not imagine how much impact that decision of having Steve Moles as my mentor would make on my life.
Steve and I made an immediate connection and through our time together, built an extremely strong friendship. Steve said in the early days that a friendship is built on 3 things”Our relationship has thrived in such an environment. So much that I want to share with you the impact that was created in our last phone call.
Connecting with your Mentor
Steve and I typically meet once a month via a phone call or possibly a Teams meeting. Prior to the pandemic, it was always in person, and we would typically add in a meal or possibly Steve would attend one of my kids’ activities. The mentorship moved beyond a work relationship, to simply a relationship. We both try to prepare for our meetings by reviewing past notes and topics as well as capturing those items that should be part of our upcoming discussion. I knew that the first thing I wanted to discuss was Steve and how he was doing.
After our last meeting, Jenny, my wife, had asked some questions about how Steve and his family were doing. I was embarrassed to admit that it didn’t come up as we focused heavily on my situation. I recognized that it was something I needed to make sure and fix, so during some of our frequent exchanges, via email and text, I would inquire into how things were going personally. There were some nuances in his responses that made me realize that we needed to spend time discussing his situation in more detail.
A fruitful discussion followed as we caught up on all that life brings. Steve’s calmness, positivity and wisdom were on full display as he shared this perspective: “There is light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just a longer tunnel than we thought.”
As we shared our personal challenges, the topic of our health rose to the forefront. Together, we discussed our situations and set goals, together, to aid in our program. Was this work related? Nope. But it is important to our overall health and well-being which directly relates to our ability to have an impact on others.
We then jumped to the topic of an upcoming video series that Brewer Science will be sharing in the Virtual Learning Lab, where I discuss the 3 Pillars of Impact. I shared my concern about whether we will know of the value or impact we gain from these videos - the same concerns I have when I post my writings. This led to the realization that this challenge exists in many areas, and we identified some steps to talk to move us towards a solution.
This brought up a previous discussion where Steve had shared that to have an Impact your engagement or writing needs to Captivate, Stimulate and Motivate. We talked about how to do that with the intended audience and whether we are targeting the right audience. Steve shared the thought that “we don’t know our capabilities until we go beyond them.” More powerful insight about our own self-assessment as well as understanding the potential of others.
We then moved on to the subject of responsibilities and leading an organization. A great discussion on Ownership vs Accountability led me to begin to draft a future article about how you must own your failures. More on this subject in the future. Steve also challenged me on where I am spending my time - am I in the Tactical world or the Strategic world? The reality is that they are not mutually exclusive, and they can coexist. Throughout a day, you will move back and forth between the worlds, but you must possess the skills to address both challenges. But where should I be spending my time?
Outcome of Mentorship
At the conclusion of our call, I walked away with three action items. They were not assigned by Steve or verbalized by me during the meeting. But as I reviewed my notes, they jumped out of the page and spoke to me. These were things I needed to do to be a better leader. A better father. A better husband. A better person.
The power of the mentor goes beyond what he shares and what he gives. It is what he instills in you and helps you become. The servant leadership is on display so that you desire to be a better person together. While I try to show and speak my appreciation for the relationship with Steve, I never seem to do it justice. The impact of the time spent with Steve is something that I cannot measure today because the magnitude of the ripple effect from those he has served will be felt well Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.