I am so thankful for all of the encouragement I received throughout my first series (The Unlikely Places From Which Success is Born). I thought I would focus this next series on Professional Growth and include not only the things that I think are critical to success in any position or in attaining the next position (things like mentoring and work/life balance), but also things I am asked about a LOT (things like resume writing, interview tips and public speaking). If you have additional suggestions, don’t hesitate to include your thoughts in the comments below. 💙 This first post dives into something near and dear to my heart – mentorship!
We’ve all heard “to whom much is given, much will be required.” When it comes to leadership, part of that sacred responsibility is raising others up along the way. Gandhi noted that “a sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have but how many leaders you create.” Regardless of the position you are in or are aspiring to be in – there are people who are looking to YOU for leadership. Lead them.
At any given time, I am mentoring multiple people. Right now I am formally mentoring a first year superintendent, two aspiring superintendents (including one who was recently named lone finalist – wahoo!), and a campus administrator who is finishing her doctorate and aspires to lead at the district level. But informally, I would hope that many people would say that I’ve had a hand in mentoring them – just like I could name dozens who have served as a mentor to me. The “ask” isn’t to go one by one to the people in our circles to see if we can be their mentor. Our responsibility is to POUR IN to the lives of those around us – and to let those relationships find us naturally.
But equally important to leading others, we need to make sure that we are being LED. So often as we RISE in our leadership, there are fewer and fewer people to help lead us in our journeys… Sometimes because we have already arrived at where we were trying to go, and sometimes because those very mentors have turned into colleagues and friends along the way.
As I look back on my leadership journey, my life would have looked DRASTICALLY different had I not had people POUR into me along the way. In fact, I started to make a list of everyone who has impacted me to include in this post… And 13 paragraphs later, I realized I could never name them all, nor do the impact they’ve had on me justice. Some of these folks helped my entry into leadership; some of them taught me lessons in how to run a school, write curriculum and build systems; and some of them taught me that “the work” was nowhere near as important as “the people.”
My mentor relationships (those mentoring me) look different today than they did 20 years ago. But they still happen. And they are still critically important. No matter where we are in our leadership journey, we will not be our best if we don’t continue to seek people who challenge us, pour into us and can see further into us than we can see ourselves.Each of us needs to be leading others and each of us needs to be led!
Who are the people that have impacted your life? How are you different today because of the people who have poured into you? Who around you is looking to YOU to lead them?