Thoughts on mentoring

For me, it was a very busy summer. But there were two highlights that made all the airport visits and jammed calendars worth it.

First, I found out I’m going be a dad! If things stay on track, our son should be coming in early January. Second, I was able to reconnect with my fraternity and help facilitate a leadership conference.

Both experiences have me reflecting on how much I’ve missed being a mentor and providing guidance to others based on my experiences. Soon, I’ll be able to do that as a father. For now, I’m just enjoying this latest experience.

The aforementioned conference was energizing. It was four, very long, hot, grueling days where volunteers like myself worked with groups of 15 or so undergraduates to teach them leadership skills and challenge them to confront the difficulties facing college students today.

Mentoring works both ways

I had not been in a classroom in that kind of role in years, but I could not have enjoyed it more. Looking back, I’ve been lucky to be in multiple roles where I was tasked with mentoring groups of people. Aside from my brief life as an educator, I’ve had fantastic teams to work with in multiple stops along my career path. I liked my job at each of those organizations, but the real joy of my work was mentoring and coaching my teams.

When I think back to my years supervising teams, first a group of resident assistants, then a larger team during my time with American Campus Communities, I learned so much more from them than they learned from me. I learned how to be more patient, how to listen better, how to communicate more clearly, and how to better balance myself in and out of the office. This part of my professional experience is something I’m very proud of.

Mentoring is about helping people do their work while learning as much as you can from them.

These mentoring experiences also helped me become a better teammate in my current role. Coworkers often ask me to help brainstorm ideas to help with customer issues, to find resources, or just help with whatever miscellaneous problem arises. It’s not part of my formal role, but we’re all on the same team and all working towards the same goal.

And I love helping people. It’s the best part of my day. Seriously.

As I think about what these experiences are going to mean to me as a father, I know I’m going to take lessons from each of those stops and use them in this new journey in my life. I’ll be able to attach names and faces to those lessons from teammates past and present. I know that I’ll learn even more when fatherhood hits me in a few short months. I also know that I’m going to continue to learn and figure things out because I know I don’t know everything.

If there’s anything I hope to communicate, it’s that the lessons gained from coaching and mentoring aren’t about just being a leader in title. It’s not about being the boss or having the clout of a manager. It’s about helping people do their work while learning as much as you can from them.

* This blog post was originally published on Pulse.

Joe Russo

Joe Russo

Joe Russo is a strategic account manager at Hyland. Currently, Joe also writes for Factory of Sadness, a Cleveland sports website operated by Fansided, and The OnBase and Hyland Blogs.... read more about: Joe Russo