Summer months bring closure to mentoring relationships. Each year I have the great pleasure of working with young professionals toward a future plan that engages their personal and professional strengths. Many strategies will unfold in the lives of these professionals who are in different stages of their careers and seeking a path to success in a new career. As we wrap up the final days of the FIREPOWER mentoring season, some lessons learned may be helpful to young professionals you know.
Sonia is a corporate recruiting professional who discovered her strengths in building relationships throughout her professional networks. When we met, Sonia was enjoying her fourth year in a large corporate environment, yet she felt something was missing. Sonia’s outgoing personality and industry knowledge had been serving her well within the workplace and her professional networks. However, she was hitting road blocks that challenged her progress in leadership roles. Without awareness of her personal talents, she was missing the ability to manage her influence on others. A dependence on knowledge and skills and lack of awareness about the influence of her natural talents on colleagues kept her from achieving a new leadership role. Once Sonia understood the impact of combining her natural talents with her knowledge and skills, and her enthusiasm to succeed, she was able to drive her motivations in a positive manner. She began to manage her interactions and improve communications with senior members of her vast internal networks. At the end of the season, Sonia has overcome her challenges and she is soaring ahead toward a new level of professional leadership.
Peter is entering the final frontier of his graduate student experience. He felt sure that his university activities and internships were on track until we met, and then he realized there may be more to ensuring his success than knowledge, experience, and skills. Peter was thrilled to recognize the power of his innate talents as a guiding compass in decision making. Decisions he had previously second-guessed were validated, and Peter realized the power of innate and transferrable abilities on his performance. Peter is now integrating his natural strengths with his education to fulfill his professional, social, and spiritual purpose. He now has a firm grasp of his unique advantage in his chosen profession and the influence of his strengths in building the meaningful career he desires.
Pamela is a leadership consultant with a strong sense of purpose toward helping women. She was contemplating a balance between a business that serves a cause, or a business that builds revenue and scale. While the right business vision and framework is imperative, Pam further discerned that her best direction includes her true passion, and her advocacy must include her God-given abilities as the foundation of her success. Through this mission she now serves a great cause and she is building a credible business model.
Anna is a professional of ten years and had been gaining wisdom and experience in an accounting career. As she worked hard to gain approval form her supervisors she was not provided with feedback. Feedback is an essential part of developing and retaining talent and Anna was continually frustrated that her work was unnoticed and under-valued. For ten years she experienced a leadership culture that made it clear there was no room for new methods, new collaborations, and no interest in developing Anna’s natural leadership talent. Anna had been developing a purposeful free-lance service, a second career that appealed to her passions in life and work. She was in a transition period when we met, to decide whether to keep her nose to the ledger so-to-speak, or jump into the entrepreneurial world to develop her free-lance work into a business. As we worked together, I had an opportunity to make an introduction that would accomplish one of two outcomes; provide income while Anna developed her business or combine her people talents with her accounting skills and experience in a role that would fully engage her strengths. In a brief encounter my colleagues realized Anna’s strengths and hired her for a new full-time role that captured her talents and skills and ambitions. Anna has been a super success in her first year.
Connor found himself in a state of transition after relocating to the southeast. Upon accepting a position with a top consulting firm, he made a move to be near family, but he had a feeling there was more than career change at play in his life. Connor initially struggled with activating his life purpose along with a successful career, and he desired a strategy to advance a project currently underway. During our conversations he discovered he needed a strategic approach to finishing the project. As Connor completed the project he was simultaneously laid off from the new company. Managing looming self-doubt, Connor realized there was mutual discontent in his relationships in the consulting position. He has a strong call to coach men of all ages, to merge their life purpose with their careers, and today he has regained his confidence and is pursuing a path to fully activate this goal through writing, speaking and consulting.
No matter the length of time in a career or the desired goal, we must understand our personal power to succeed in a chosen field and in life. Providing awareness of human strengths brings forth personal firepower to super charge a professional role, make necessary life changes, or see the potential in a new plan. With new perspective of potential pathways toward the future, we can see the natural and renewable capacity to perform. There is great firepower that bursts out of these engagements as we explore how to optimize God-given talents and learned abilities within professional roles that feel right and enable someone to perform their best.
My years as a mentor have taught me that when there is no connection between who we are, and the work we are doing every day, there will be a powerful struggle to achieve our personal and professional best. As leaders we must recognize the mutual benefit and long-term return on investment from engaging people strengths. We get to empower those we serve, to take the right actions, to help our teams perform their best work, and watch them do great things! As the mentoring season comes to an end the New Year will open my door to new mentees. I look forward to hearing of the ongoing successes of leaders for whom I have had the privilege of discovering their unique and purposeful advantage in building their future and that of the people they lead.