20 Questions for Leaders 1/20 – Mentors

From 20 great questions for leaders:

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe some one who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?

I have had several mentors or influences throughout my life, each being involved at a different stage, and having a different impact.

First of all was my dad, I wrote a blog about him, called “Heroes and Influences” back in Oct 2012.  My dad showed me that we are not tied to a destiny based on our history, but that we can take control of our own futures and shape it the way we want. He was the first member of his family going back several generations not to work down the coals mines, which was an impressive feat.

My next major influence, my mentor, was my Dan Corbett, who was my father-in-law at the time. He had started working in a supermarket stacking shelves and then 20 years later he was the Operations Director for one of the biggest chains in Ireland. He too showed me that with hard work and determination we could achieve much.

He also taught me a lot about leading and managing, about keeping things simple and getting people to focus on the right priorities. Too often people fail because they don’t understand the problem they are dealing with and they focus on unimportant things.
He taught me about commitment, making commitments and meeting them, as a way of building credibility and trust.

We used to talk a lot about business, finance, and P&L he used to try and get me to look at things from the business or customers perspective. To help me think about IT less as a technical discipline, but more of a service to the business.

He really helped round out my education.

To be honest from there on, most of my remaining development came from positive or negative influences that I experienced, or from coaching.

Positive influences came form the people who worked with, or for, me. Their feedback helped me understand some of my own strengths and weaknesses better, and also what worked well and what didn’t from a leadership point of view.

The negative influences mainly came from some of the bad bosses that I had, who showed me what bad management and bad leadership looked like, and showed me exactly what not to do as a leader. Seriously.

In the early 2000’s, one particularly bad boss, probably my worst, not only showed me how not to lead and manage, but also how not to do business too. This was a great learning opportunity, although a particularly stressful time.

Most recent significant influence was Julie Starr. Julie coached me during 2005 when I worked at DHL in Prague.

Julie taught me an awful lot about myself: about what I was capable of; about self limiting beliefs that were holding me back; about playing a bigger game & having more influence; and also about how to realise more of my potential.

Julie helped boost my self confidence which allowed me to go on and be a better manager, and more importantly, leader.

So these are the influences who have helped shape me and my leadership style.

Who are your influences, I would love to know?