At the start of my career, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to become. I had a degree in Psychology and Business, but what did that mean? I did know I needed a job, and I was blessed to join a woman-owned organization focused on quality market research. Immediately, I began working on the people side of the business as the hiring and training coordinator for the telephone center. Meanwhile, the company had been applying for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, so each year we’d learn from our mistakes, hire higher quality people, and earn better results. I wasn’t yet sure what I wanted to become, but this was an excellent way to learn about business and quality from the ground up.
The greatest lesson I learned was that I needed mentors in my career. The Baldrige Award promoted this type of development and challenged us to promote that sort of structure from within. Some of the best advice I received was from one of our senior leaders, someone who I looked up to professionally and spiritually. Responding to my strong desire to ascend the ranks quickly, she said, “Laura, if you knew what you wanted to be at twenty-three, think about how boring your life would be.” I still think about that comment, and in turn, I have continued on the path toward perpetual growth and constant learning.
A few years into my career, I began seeking mentorship outside of our company. I decided to pursue these opportunities by earning a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership. My professors and classmates were amazing mentors for me. Once that experience was over, I decided to seek out my own peer group. These peer groups were informally put together and were filled with women my own age. We developed our own agenda and shared our challenges with one another. It was a pretty tight group, but there was something missing: the depth of our development. How were we going to learn by only talking to other women of the same experience level and age? So, I looked for a group that was a little more senior and have been involved with them ever since. They hold me accountable—sometimes saying things I don’t want to hear, but need to hear. They push me to be better at owning a business. They push me to be a strong leader both personally and professionally.
There are countless studies on the importance of bringing people together for mentoring and peer relationships. Here in Minnesota, there are a few of note: Minnesota Executive Group, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtables, Vistage, Menttium, and Team Women Minnesota—to name a few. As you pursue your own mentorship opportunities, remember the importance and power of including yourself in a group of motivated, like-minded professional peers:
Accountability to a group of five, ten, or fifteen go-getters not only keeps you on track, but as you establish personal goals, all the witnesses to your commitment will propel you forward and encourage you should you falter. What’s more, you’ll have externalized your goal so that you’re more likely to stay on track and produce results, in order to keep your word.
Accountability to a group can help diversify your way of thinking. For instance, if a problem at work is holding you back, a group of professionals can help you creatively problem-solve by offering a new perspective on the issue, or at least fresh sets of eyes.
Accountability through mentorship also provides emotional support. Surrounded by fellow business leaders, you’ll be able to gain insight into how someone overcame a certain obstacle, or simply lessen your emotional load by communing with others who understand your role and its challenges.
With all that in mind, stay tuned for more information to come on an exciting opportunity for mentorship and comradery for women in emerging leadership positions. Return to our blog in the months to come for more updates on a new chance for ambitious female leaders to come together in skill-building, support, and accountability.
Laura Boyd has over 20 years of experience working with organizations to help them develop sustainable growth as organizations and the people within. She has been a leader on executive teams for large companies, emerging companies and non-profits, as well as, a business owner. She believes Leadership is the ultimate Delta for change, strategy and growth in an organization. She is now taking her years of experience helping businesses become high performance organizations. Learn More Here