Sunday, July 18, 2010

Major league mentoring

Thursday morning started out pretty much as normal for Gloria. She woke, had breakfast and read the paper. Perhaps she watched the news or a morning TV show like millions of Americans. When her son called, it was not a surprise.

But this was not going to be a typical day. Her son was making an important career decision and she was about to be asked her opinion. Many of us in leadership are asked by junior colleagues our opinion about career decisions. Generally, we do our best to provide honest and credible advice. Gloria did the same. She coached her son to make the decision that would most make him happy. To take the path that best meets your needs. Gloria’s advice gave her son the freedom to make a very significant change.

Gloria James had no idea the reaction Lebron’s decision would create. Her advice was sound and the rest is history.

Have you ever been asked for career guidance and under estimated the result? How did you react?


Daniel Fitzpatrick said...

Great question John! I'm always nervous when I'm asked this kind of question, since I often feel that the person asking will give more weight to my answer than is really appropriate.

I first try to find out whether they already have an answer and just want someone to confirm it, or if they truly are unsure and need direction. I also encourage them to ask a number of people and not let my opinion carry too much weight.

I've had both good and bad results when I attempted this. The best result came when I encouraged my spouse to quit an unfulfilling job and take a chance on starting her own business, as I knew the business was there and would grow if she could focus on it. The less-than-ideal results came when I encouraged a friend to stay in their current job since I thought it was a good match. They were fired several months later for poor performance. Quite humbling.

I've also learned from other how to do this well. I have been saved from two potentially disastrous career moves by friends who were very blunt with me about my ideas - not unkind, but very honest. For a while I disliked them for what they said, but their wisdom became clearer later on.


StayInformed said...

Major league mentoring means sometimes you hit a home run but you may also strike out. I, like your other bloggers, have done both. But, continuing with a baseball analogy, I would rather go down swinging with advice than get called out on strikes doing nothing. The hardest part about mentoring but probably the most significant, is giving good advice when you know it will probably not be well received. I think Gloria James probably gave the most sound advice that served the best interest of her son and never looked back.

Voyage of Thoughts said...

Great question, as always, John! Yes, I have been asked several times over my career. And I have always tried to put myself in the shoes of the person who is asking, assuming the strengths and weaknesses of that person as well (my perception) and have given my honest view-points. I have had mostly good results.
I remember at one time, a friend of mine asked me to choose between two streams of study. I knew he was inclined towards Stream 1 (which was very popular). I told him he would do very well in Stream 2. He took my advice and years later thanked me - he had finished top of his class (all credit to him) and started a new career path.

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