Leaders should never fear building better people

Bay-area human resources professional says her mentor shaped her career mindset

I recently sat down and enjoyed a visit with a former client. It’s great as a leadership consultant and coach to reconnect with people you’ve seen grow and been a part of helping them along the way.

This particular client was your classic high-performer;  she worked her way up from a summer intern position to a significant HR position inside her company. After some reflection, she sought a new and bigger challenge and took on a role responsible for shaping the leaders inside a fast-paced and demanding tech company in the San Francisco Bay area.

While having coffee, we began speaking about her former boss. He was the mentor that helped shape her career mindset and behaviors. I asked her, “what’s the one thing you learned from your mentor that you try and bring to your role as a leader now?”

She paused for a moment, uncomfortable having been forced into making a specific choice.

She then looked at me with clarity and said, “I learned from him that as a manager, I should never fear developing the people on my team to be better than me. He did this in many ways: Don’t withhold information. Ask for opinions to check the level of understanding. Coach them on their mistakes, course correct minor issues before they get big and don’t worry about them replacing you. If you do your job in developing them, there will always be a place for you…”

We continued talking for some time. Afterwards, she was slightly embarrassed that she dominated the conversation. She said my questions were challenging and forced her to really think about things.

That’s what happens when people are curious about you and how you experience your world. When you ask and learn, you both grow.

It’s what I do as a coach. Ask hard questions to help you understand the most important things; to your leadership, your business and most importantly yourself.

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