June 27th, 2011
Guest column by Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward Association.
We’ve all encountered people that have helped us along the way. It might have been a parent, teacher, coach, colleague at work or even a stranger who passed through your life for a brief moment. The role that mentors play in our lives – whether it’s formal or informal – is profound. And it’s often the influence of others that help us develop our own true potential.
Take some time this month to reflect back and thank someone who made an impact in your life. Then, continue the cycle by paying it forward to someone else who is climbing up the career ladder behind you. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone else realize a dream – or take a few steps closer in doing so. The true legacy of what we leave behind is not just about what we accomplish ourselves, but about how we enable others to achieve their own success. True leaders don’t focus exclusively on themselves but rather look for ways to work with others and help them succeed.
Mentoring is a management tool that can add to the overall productivity of a company and improve the recruitment and retention of quality employees, which is why companies like APS, Wells Fargo and others have implemented formal mentorship programs. Knowledge sharing between different age demographics of employees can also increase the understanding of where the generations are coming from in their approach to work and help them learn how best to communicate with each other. By finding ways to take advantage of generational differences and strengths, more effective teams can be developed.
Recognizing a lack of training available for future civic leaders in Arizona, the Flinn Foundation and the Thomas R. Brown Foundations partnered together to launch the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy last year. The goal of the 10-week program is to enhance participants’ civic-leadership capacity and knowledge of key public policy issues that impact our state. It’s complimented by one-on-one mentoring with successful leaders. The inaugural class of 25 Fellows just graduated last month and the Academy is recruiting for the fall program.
Additionally, Valley Forward is planning the rollout of an Emerging Leaders program aimed at engaging young professionals and student members in the mission and purpose of the non-profit environmental public interest organization. They’ll be provided with opportunities to learn from more established and experienced members that are current civic and business leaders.
Be sure to create a good environment for those you mentor and speak wisdom into their lives, but also allow them to teach you. Even more than using words to encourage the young people around you, show by example. As leaders, we are accountable and responsible for helping shape the future of our world.