By Dr. Melissa Luke
Summary: The answer for mentorship in top executive leadership is to look within yourself. Your core personal values are probably why you are where you are today. Reflect on those values if you are having difficulty in planning the way forward, and remind yourself that you are a real leader. Read a good book about someone more accomplished than you. Reading is inspiring, illuminating, and real cheap help. So the experienced CEO of a high-powered growth company looks within himself and reflects on his past mentors for guidance, but theexecutives in start-up companies need a board of experienced businessmen to guide them around the pitfalls.
The most difficult task for the budding entrepreneur in turning a great idea into a promising start-up is the many “hats” he must wear. He might be an engineer with a great design, but knows nothing of accounting. He might be a marketing whiz, but be clueless about financing. All aspects of business must be addressed: financing and start-up costs, cost controls and accounting, marketing, advertising, public relations, strategic planning, taxes, inspirational leadership, effective management, and above all providing a high quality and useful product. That is why about half of new businesses are started by a team.
Being a one-man show in your own business can be the biggest barrier to business success. That is why having a strong mentor program is often crucial. The mentorship process provides constant contact and communication with others experiencing similar challenges. It is just as useful to hear of the problems other young businessmen are having that are totally different from your current concerns. In a start-up and in a growing small business creating a mutual sounding-board network with other savvy business owners helps each businessman to fill in his weak spots with others strengths.
Many entrepreneurs opt to outsource to consultants to build a business plan. The problem with this route is that although there is a plan in place, there is no real understanding of how to propel the business plan forward, or how to manage, market, direct, or delegate. Amore productive route is to build a roundtable of 6-10 small business owners who meet on a monthly basis to discuss the current business issues and to suggest course corrections.
The first and fundamental step in achieving the business’s objectives is to properly organize to just that. A solid network of people who have the diverse skills to handle all the “hats” necessary for business success must be developed. Often this is the least understood and most neglected step. Whether by design or neglect there is a strategy in place in every start-up organization,. Ideally it is the result of a top-down vision strategically executed against well-defined goals. More often than not, it is the de facto result of random decisions and reprocessed information arising from below. New companies almost by definition have a high risk of failure. The potential for success can beincreased significantly by networking with others who have developed effective strategies.
To be unique requires one to innovate, and to innovate requires building off other earlier successes. You can find experts who can define the requirements, evaluate the culture and structure of the organization, identify needed changes, and implement the changesinto an environment that gets results. Other people have done this before; it would be wiseto seek them out if you plan to own your own business in the near future. You need mentors if you want to be a successful and innovative company.
What does a CEO of a high growth company do for a mentor? More likely they are mentors to others rather than mentored to. People who rise to that executive level oftenhave intense, competitive, determined, and self motivated personalities. Most are type “A”or “Red” personalities. Most leaders will tell you that they had someone early in their career that served as their mentor. Perhaps it was an informal relationship but someonelikely helped develop his or her leadership and management skills. Once you become a high-end executive, mentors are hard to come by. It’s lonely at the top. If you are the CEO or president it is prudent for you to surround yourself with people that are NOT like you. Look for people who are accomplished—but with skills very different from your skill set. That diversity will help propel you and your business forward.
High growth CEO’s need to reflect on why they are in their current position and to remember how they thought and acted in their rise to their current status. Reflection is golden in the corporate world. If you don’t tend to reflect, find a skilled person to ask you questions about how you got to where you are. Eventually it will all come back to you.
BIO: Dr. Melissa Luke is a published author, a professional speaker and a career performance expert. She has impacted audiences in the tens of thousands with her simple goal; to reprogram the way people think at work. Dr. Luke has held high-ranking positions throughout the elite corporate world. She was the co-founder and CEO of one of the first online trading floors in the United States, was a Senior Business Analyst at the largest for-profit consulting firm in North America, served as a Federal Revenue Officer for the U.S. Treasury, and was on the Board of Directors for Boeing Airpower. She has earned a Doctorate in Management (DM), and also lectures at the university level on corporate leadership and innovation. She likes to consider herself a pretend athlete and enjoys flying aircraft, motorcycles, hiking, skiing, and scuba diving. Her new book, Life in the World of YOMO: 12 Steps to a Perfect Career, can be found on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other find booksellers. For more info visit www.DrMelissaLuke.com.