5 inspiring traits mentors have: What I learned from Andy Goodman
By | Sreekanth K Arimanithaya | Global Talent and Enablement Services Leader, EY Global Delivery Services
This weekend I met my mentor, Andy Goodman. Well, I do not know if the term ‘mentor’ would sufficiently define our relationship, for he has been a colleague, counselor, leader, teacher, and friend at various points in my life. He has egged me to grow through my career like a proud parent, cherishing each success, and motivating me through setbacks.
Mentoring is a very important relationship. We sometimes approach it like a program, but the truth is, it is an enriching relationship. One that can positively influence you and your career.
How a mentor can change your career:
- Bias and Belonging – In a nutshell, mentoring is a safe space. The mentee needs to be their authentic self to be pushed to their potential. As a mentor, you need to fight your own biases because people are different; therein lies their strength. It also means that the onus is on you to create a sense of belonging and acceptance. When Andy asked me to move to the US to be on his team, leading Talent Transformation, he saw potential in me. While I had a proven track record in delivering solutions, I had not yet started seeing myself as a leader. At least to me back then, a leader – though aspirational – was a stereotype. Leaders to me were polished, poised – with a touch of celebrity, if I may describe them so. Andy, as a mentor, would not hear of that, so he did not just put me onto the role, he pushed me to advocate our work, speak about it and be the face of it – in media and in forums. He did break a bias – but it was mine.
- Learn to teach – Mentoring, as counterintuitive as it may sound, is as much about learning as it is teaching. It is simple – if you lack natural curiosity, how will you guide someone to fly? Andy often told me, ‘innovation and transformation are always fraught with risk – but that is where success lies. So never stop trying’, but in an equal measure. He also drilled into me an important leadership lesson that all transformation needs to be in sync with the business. He has the careless curiosity of a child and methodical analysis of a leader, and this balance stems from one trait – learning. He learned from everyone, everything, and everywhere.
- Walking the talk – Power and morality often share a very uneasy equation. Many leaders have fallen prey to the grey areas of ethics as they chase success. Here Purpose becomes the key. Clarity on who you are and what you stand for is crucial to keep you rooted in building meaningful careers. Mentors often act as role models in what they do, and what they say. For instance, in line with his belief and integrity, some of the bold career decisions Andy took have long inspired me to do the right things under all circumstances. Legacy, after all, is the stand you take.
- Celebrating achievements – The first time Andy mentioned he would like to work for me as much as with me, I was taken aback by the very thought. I obviously looked up to him and still do. In this, I learned, the greatest lesson – humility. The rank we carry often blinds us to the larger vision. As mentors, like parents, it’s important that we root for the success of the people we coach, often to outshine us. In the future, I do hope I get to work with, and for the many bright minds I have coached.
- Connecting with people – You connect with people over small gestures, and not just in boardroom over presentations. When I worked with Andy, each morning he popped in to say ‘hi’ and promptly dropped in to check on me before he left. It is almost a theme in my posts now to connect with people – know them, invest in them. Listen. Don’t just hear when they speak.
Beyond mentoring, Andy inspired me to be a good leader and a better person. The time he sent me on stage to accept the award for a program he led – he role modelled putting the team ahead. The time my family vetoed against me moving to a more coveted role because it meant not working with Andy – he taught me about building true connections. The anecdotes on working with him can go into pages. It is no surprise, like all #peopleledbypurpose, he finds his calling in mentoring people and business. And he continues to do it with great passion.
But I would like to close this post with #gratutide for all those leaders who have shaped our careers. Like Andy shaped mine.
Republished with permission and originally published at Sreekanth K Arimanithaya‘s Linkedin