One of the most important traits of a good leader is the willingness to allow yourself to be mentored. Even the most successful leaders understand that as individuals, we can’t have all the answers. Problems and challenges will arise that require us to seek the guidance of others in order to respond and effectively move forward.
We’ve all read stories about people who have not been teachable. Perhaps these are people who thought they could go it alone and reach their goals without any support. Or maybe the thought of swallowing their pride and sharing credit with someone else was just too difficult to accept. These attitudes only serve to limit your ability to grow.
My father recently finished a book that details the relationship he had with his father and some of the life lessons he took from it that he would later share with both me and my siblings. He understood the value of mentors and the knowledge that could be gained through those relationships. He was willing to accept help when it was needed and as a result, accomplished great things in his life and put me in a better position to accomplish my goals.
These foundational principles — Leo’s Lessons, as he likes to call them — have stuck with me to this day.
Here are some of the lessons that he taught me:
Character: Protect your name — You could do everything right in your life, but all it takes is one wrong move, one bad decision to ruin your family’s name. We’re all just one step away from making a bad choice.
Humility: Treat every person equally — The people you see on the way up in your career could be the same ones you see on the way down. Remember, pride cometh before the fall.
Confidence: Fortune favors the bull — Have the confidence that you can accomplish anything you want to and don’t be afraid to go after ambitious goals, while also accepting help along the way.
Intelligence: The worst enemy you can have is a dumb friend — Surround yourself with people who add value to your life and can teach you things that make you better. Stay away from those who could get you in trouble by accident.
Trust: Constant honesty leads to instant credibility — Be truthful at every turn and you’ll quickly build trust with those around you.
Wisdom: I’m a generalist in a pluralistic society of specialists — As those around you focus on details, always keep the bigger picture in view. You can’t be good at everything.
Generosity: Take care of the little guy and the big guy will always take care of you — Make the effort to help those less fortunate than you and you will always be provided for.
We should all think about the impact mentors have had on our lives and ask what we can do to provide the same support to the next generation of leaders.