My ancestors come to mind in days like these. I lose myself in the urgency and immediacy of the moment. Walking down the street my back gets stiffer, my shoulder pressed back by the wind that my stride creates; my neck seems longer and my hips sway easily. I feel powerful. I know my beauty is infectious. I am strong enough to lead the world. I am determined despite all odds. In my sleep my ancestors strengthen me while I *startup* develop, cultivate and lead the most important enterprise. Myself. Then HireHer.
I want you to know me because I need your help and the help of those who came before me. I can’t help but summon my grandmother on my fathers side when I need to harness the strength of the ages. She — was — strong — and — wise. It was inspiring how she could scare all of the boys but also make them fall to her feet for her golden brown biscuits. I think she must have been a descendent of Harriet Tubman. And my beautiful mother, my grandmother, and great grandmother also helped shape me and continue to sustain me in loving kindness. My mother is one of 18 kids and I am one of 7. …
Think of a time when you were new to the neighborhood and you needed to learn your way around. Wasn’t it nice when you had a cool neighbor that was willing to tell you where to find the best stores, or restaurants? It adds real value to the lives of others when you can save them time or disappointment. For example, could the new neighbor try the grocery store around the corner that frequently has expired food on the shelves or eat at seven different restaurants before finding the one that is really special? Sure. But, why not be an angel and invest in someone’s success?
Everyone can benefit from being and having a mentor, sponsor or coach. You may know that learning sharpens even the most accomplished CEO’s skill mix. It’s best not to rely exclusively on the same mentor or coach you have had for years. During a recent leadership roundtable HireHer founder and CEO, Ruth Chandler Cook encouraged the leaders in the room to recognize when these relationships happen naturally and that it should be appreciated when it occurs. She then offered quick definitions of each word:
Mentor — to advise or train
Sponsor — to introduce or support
Coach — to analyze performance, teach or train
Let’s not over complicate the thing. You see, many of the leaders just met and lamented they don’t have time, or they didn’t know how to mentor. But after hearing the definitions of the words, they all nodded agreement that they engage in these acts all the time. They laughed when Ruth flagged the unsolicited advice free flowing with regular dialogue. Sponsorship was also happening during the quick swap of business cards to make introductions to people they knew who might be able to help solve problems. The room was full of coaches, and some leaders even analyzed the problems of others during the session.
The next time someone asks you to be a mentor, sponsor, or coach, remember the quick definitions. Simply manage the requestor’s expectations by clarifying the scarcity of your time and consider offering to do what you can even if behind the scenes. …