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Leaving a Legacy

April 22, 2010 3 comments

Most of us have had someone in our lives who was a mentor. It may have been an older friend who gave great advice and passed on wisdom to you.

I had lunch today with an old, valued Marine friend. Halfway through the meal, he asked me what he could do to support me in some personal goals. After lunch, I reflected upon the exchange and realized that he and I had mentored each other for the past 28 years.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post called Developing Talent, which told a story of one of my Marine mentors. This afternoon, after reflecting on that and my lunch discussion, I revisited the following roles* a mentor may undertake:

  1. Teacher – imparts skills and knowledge required to accomplish a job.
  2. Counselor – establishes trust, listens to challenges and provides guidance as necessary.
  3. Guide – helps to navigate and understand an organization.
  4. Motivator – helps to keep focused on the performance and pushing through tough times, while developing, self respect and a sense of self-worth.
  5. Sponsor – helps create challenging and instructive opportunities that may not be available.
  6. Coach – takes an active role in observation, assessing capabilities and providing feedback and instruction.
  7. Advisor – helps cultivate professional interests and set SMART career goals.
  8. Introducer – refers and makes introductions to persons or opportunities that will enhance the mentee’s career.
  9. Role Model – sets an example for the mentee to follow.
  10. Door Opener – helps the mentee network and stay in touch for professional purposes.

Mentoring is an intentional process, with both parties sharing responsibility.  Done correctly, there are few better ways to leave a legacy.

What legacy will you leave?

*Adapted from User’s Guide to Marine Corps Values.

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Categories: Leadership

Developing Talent

April 19, 2010 2 comments

After my first week of work as a Marine, following boot camp and computer science school, I met my team leader Sgt Jim Condello. He had been away during my first week, attending the Staff Non Commissioned Officers Academy and preparing for his upcoming promotion to staff sergeant.

I met him as we checked in at the shop. Once we met, the team was given the morning off while the techs performed weekly maintenance on the mainframe. As I was leaving with the rest of the group, just as I had the week earlier, Condello asked me where I was going. He shook his head and told me to follow him.

For the next two hours, he had me doing any dirty job he could find. Every now and then, he would shout out my name and ask how it felt to be a private first class (PFC) in the Marines. I would keep working and say fine sergeant. The whole time, I was getting frustrated, but was not going to let him bother me to the point I did something stupid. After two hours, he yelled again and I had finally taken all I could without responding. I stood at attention and yelled “I like it a lot better than being a private, sergeant.”  He threw his head back, laughed hard and then told me to take the morning off.

I later realized that he was testing me. Condello had re-enlisted from the artillery and was used to a disciplined group. Many of the new guys in the shop had bad attitudes and he wanted to check mine. Once he discovered that I was a motivated young marine, I still had to do the duties of the lowest ranking guy on the team, but was treated with respect. He also went out of his way to teach me and prepare me to be an NCO.

Two years into my enlistment, I was meritoriously promoted to sergeant while on embassy duty. A few months later, I had a chance to speak to Condello and he asked me how I liked being a sergeant in the Marines. I laughed and said it was better than being a PFC. We both laughed. That was when I realized that he was as proud of my promotion as I was.

That was also a great lesson I learned from him. Condello was trying to prepare me to be a sergeant and replace him as he moved up.  He was a good leader.

I find myself looking more these days for opportunities to help others advance their careers. I think it’s the ultimate legacy that anyone could leave. If I do it correctly, then those that I help will turn around and do the same. It’s the gift that keeps giving.

Who was there to help mentor you? Who do you know, that has the talent and desire that you could mentor?