'They did matter'
(a mentor is key to personal development)
Life is tough, and being a Leader can be the most demanding of all occupations. Unfortunately, Leaders can't share their burden with just anyone. That is why having a mentor is so important. Someone you respect, you know well enough to confide in, and you regard as a Leader. I was lucky enough to have a mentor, not once, but several times in my long journey. I had advice, guidance, encouragement, and criticism from some great Mentors.
Meet four of My Mentors; they made a real difference in my journey.
David was a unique character combining versatility with integrity. He could remove an engine from a Land Rover, pilot a plane from his Zambian landing strip, slaughter, cook and serve a wild beast for dinner and play a mean game of tennis - all before bedtime! I envied his skills and admired his enduring attitude towards life’s challenges.
A white man born in Zambia, David flourished in Africa; his understanding of the psyche and thinking of Africans and their Continent helped him become a Leader amongst Africans. He was a well-respected and charismatic Chairman and Leader of African businesses. His openness and honesty impressed me; David had the highest integrity of anybody I’ve ever met.
David taught me that a Leader should focus on what works well rather than what does not.
A great mentor - it does matter.
Jim’s Leadership and turnaround of the UK business were miraculous. First, he hand-picked a strong management team and then drove the employees and management to exceed all expectations through relentless hard work and persistence. He transformed the business from a basket case of inefficiency, poor quality, low morale, and high cost - into one of the most profitable and productive Businesses within the entire Global Group. Jim gave people every opportunity to shine, driving them and me nuts with his determination. I was the luckiest of number twos to be by his side as we climbed that steep and rugged mountain together.
Jim taught me how to Lead with my head held high whilst keeping my powder dry! He showed me
how to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Working with a mentor - anything was possible.
Willie was an early exponent of 'management by walking about'. He was the epitome of a Grand Old Gentleman, wearing a fresh red carnation in the lapel of his pin-striped suit and greeting and chatting to everyone, somehow knowing each person's name. Willie's apprentices were well-trained in all departments as part of their career development. He sent us on the 'Outward Bound' course to learn how to survive in the great outdoors during the winter and gave us paid time off for further education studies. Willie was a Director of two large UK Banks, The Scottish Tourism Board and President of The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. He established 'The Thyne Scholarship', enabling young men and women to travel to a country of their choice to study, broaden their outlook and research their particular vocation.
Willie taught me there's more to being a Leader than just a Boss. A mentor makes time for their mentee and helps them succeed.
Willie would have been a success in any century.
I met Alan by accident one Sunday morning when
I was on holiday and out for a stroll. He offered me a job at our very first encounter! So, we moved house 300 kilometres on a handshake from a stranger.
I had known Alan for just 30 minutes. What happened next transformed my life. Alan led by example, was even-handed and supported the people who worked for him.
This wealthy, blonde bombshell of a man thought nothing of removing his jacket and getting stuck in to help others, whether driving a truck, sweeping the floors, making the coffee, or just being the first to arrive and last to leave every day. Alan was firstly a helper and secondly a CEO. He made it his life's work to help employees improve and succeed and showed other Leaders how to take responsibility for their people.
Alan taught me self-belief, gave me my first chance in management, and taught me how powerful a 'common touch' can be. Everyone looked up to Alan - he was a mentor to many; he became my mentor, and I was lucky he was.
"Wisdom only comes with age, but age is no guarantee that you'll become wise. However, growing older does make you feel like you are becoming a little less stupid.
A mentor is like good whisky - it ages well!" (from 'it does matter.')
"Employing people is the most important thing a leader does. Be prepared to pay them more than you budgeted, or don't hire them!"
Buy My Book!
"Enjoyed 'it does matter' and found it very helpful. I got a bit lost in some technical detail, but I like the way the Author kept emphasising his message. I've never come across a book before that was so well printed and bound - it'll last 100 years!"
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