Thursday, August 29, 2013
ON VISIONS AND MENTORING
As the story goes, Walt Disney had a key piece of advice to the executives planning the Magic Kingdom: Build the castle first. Disney understood that everyone involved in achieving his vision — from the Madison Avenue advertisers selling it to the guys hacking their way through the mosquito-infested Florida swamp — needed literally to see the beauty of this vision to remind them what they were working toward. So the first thing to rear up out of the swamp was, in fact, Cinderella's Castle, which, with its fluttering flats and whimsical turrets, was the very embodiment of the magic he intended to make.
Building a successful career is equally arduous. No matter what you bring to the undertaking, you need a vision: not just a destination but an inspiration. Direction and drive will serve you well but you've got to see where you're headed to push forward and progress toward your goal.
Start by performing a diagnostic on your dream. Consider these questions: What place would feel magical? With whom would you like to share that space? What sort of conversation would you like to have with them? What sort of transformation do you most like to drive? This blue-sky thinking will serve to sketch out your career castle construction strategy.
The most important part of the article came about as Hewlett spoke of the importance and the process of developing your mentors:
Success is never a solo endeavor. You need to find the right people to support you, advise you, and stretch you to realize your dream. Mentors and sponsors are vital, and each brings special strengths and attributes to your cause.
Mentors shine as you start to define your dream. They can see and put into words for you what you may not see about yourself or be able to articulate. They can help you determine your strengths: what you do exceptionally well and what sets you apart. In addition, they can help narrow your focus as you tackle such amorphous topics as what accomplishments have given you joy and won you accolades, what gives you satisfaction, and whether the mission or mandate of your organization overlap with your own set of values. This is heavy lifting, so don't be surprised if your mentor doesn't have the time or ability to assist in all of these areas, but can only provide some advice and wisdom.
A well-chosen mentor will also know the lay of the land in your firm and help you learn to navigate the corporate ladder. Research from the Center for Talent Innovation shows that the vast majority of women (85%) and multicultural professionals (81%) need navigational help. Mentors can help you understand the unwritten rules, provide a map for the uncharted corridors to power, and reveal "the business behind the business." Most important, by assisting you with this essential assessment, they prepare you to attract sponsors.
If mentors help define the dream, sponsors are the dream-enablers. Sponsors deliver: They make you visible to leaders within the company — and to top people outside as well. They connect you to career opportunities and provide air cover when you encounter trouble. When it comes to opening doors, they don't stop with one promotion: They'll see you to the threshold of power. They will make sure your castle gets constructed.
It's an outstanding article and you can read it in it's entirety here.