Sunday was Mother's Day and today is my mother's birthday, which has me reflecting on what a profound impact my mother has had on my life, my leadership style and my sense of responsibility and commitment toward those who work for and with me. My mother spent most of her 35-year career working for the Federal Government and is now retired. After completing her bachelor's degree at night, while working full-time and raising three kids, she started her master's degree, but quit that program once she achieved a management position because she had obtained her ideal leadership position of a team of professionals. Mom always wanted to be a team leader, she loved working with people, she was energized by the diversity of people, she knew every team member personally, to help them grow in their lives and careers. Any time that I went to work with her, I was told by everyone how lucky I was to have her as my mother.
My mother valued mentoring and viewed it as her responsibility to her team, to help them grow as she had been helped in her career. I have always lead and mentored in the same way in my career, as I saw the difference in a team that supports and grows together is much more enjoyable to work in and more productive. Plus it is rewarding to help others see what they cannot see, to suggest how they can improve themselves and their work -- with a positive and encouraging work dialog, then later witness their growth and gratitude.
Not all leaders value mentoring, as my mother and I have both encountered in our careers. We both have left jobs that we loved after having to deal with managers who didn't care as much about their staff and developing them as they valued numbers and task completion. Ironically, being personally connected with your team and committed to them usually produces a pro-active work environment, increased retention and self-initiated accountability -- which naturally raises team and individual productivity. It takes a leader's personal commitment to mentoring her team to accomplish optimal organizational productivity. Thanks, Mom, for modeling this for me!