Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mentors

Who are the true mentors? What do they do?

In my 24 years of working life I have many friends, allies, teachers and even coaches but only a few mentors. They are hard to come by but when it does they are gems. I do hope that a few more will be forthcoming in the second half of my career.

Most aspiring executives will go through these phases in their career. Hopefully as they climb the corporate ladder, opportunities will avail for them to lead in bigger companies with wider geographical responsibilities.

Even as I list the four steps here there are of course other factors that work for and against the executives. Factors like learning, being high touch, networking etc.

Four Possible Steps to the Top

1. Logistical and Operational Competence - ability to understand and to work and get the work done right.
2. Organizational and Tactical Competence - ability to sync and manage the company with other parts within the organization to do the right things.
3. Mobilization and Strategic Competence - ability to sync and position the company taking into consideration the competition and the environment (internal and external).
4. Creative and Imaginative Competence - ability to interpret current signs and extrapolate into the future ultimately thriving the company and/or creating new profitable products and services.

A mentor is not just a coach. He challenges and points me to the right direction. He releases dreams and visions. Nothing is impossible. But most importantly he needs to be creatively fertile that he can father many 'babies'. I called my mentor for the last 4 years as my tor-mentor. He likened our meetings as tough squash games. Drenched completely in sweat.

One very interesting meeting we have was in a coffee shop where we have chicken rice, char siew and roast pork. He was hungry when I picked him up from the KLIA. There was a lunch crowd. We ate and talked.

It went 'animated'. The decibels were rising. He told me to "Get real and grow up!!" But in between he also told that he will not start this project in this East Asian country if I am not committing myself to mentor and handhold the local partner. Such trust and honor. From one mentor to another.

In every meeting my mentor will challenged me mentally. Each meeting will moved me up the creative scale. This is what I value most. The day I lose my ability to be creative and be imaginative it will be day I become a deadwood. It is so easy for me to slipped into the paths of least resistance rather than to take the steep, narrow and winding road. It is so easy to say, "It won't work," "we've tried that before," "we can't afford it" and scores of other excuses.

Hip, hip hooray to wonderful mentors!
Meal in the First Class on MH

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