Mentoring as Environmental Stewardship

I had an opportunity in January 2018 to participate on a panel at the Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA)/American Economic Association (AEA) meeting on “Best Practices in Mentoring Underrepresented Minority Women in Economics.”

As a follow up to this event, I was invited to submit a piece to the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP) newsletter.

I wrote about Mentoring as Environmental Stewardship.

In this piece I write the following, “Optimally enacted, mentoring is about success of the individual in and with contributions to a particular context.”

I truly believe that this is one of the keys to successful mentoring, that is to support optimal outcomes for the individual and the “place” in which they function/work.

Additionally, I argue the following in this piece:

A link to my full write-up is provided here:

A link to the full newsletter which contains additional pieces on mentoring is here.

As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM

Leading to pursue purpose or personal affirmation?

I’ve become increasingly convinced that one of our greatest leadership challenges in higher education and far beyond is the way in which we select and reward leaders.

There are two extremes in leadership, to my mind—leaders who have developed and carefully cultivate a vision of leadership and purpose vs. those leaders who step into leadership positions actively pursuing personal affirmation and self-promotion.

Leaders pursuing vision and purpose arrive in these leadership roles with a good sense of self, a defined vision, and a clear sense of how their vision/purpose will be enabled through their leadership role or platform. These individuals often cultivate sources of affirmation that are self-driven or external to the leadership role that they hold. Where one seeks validation is critical as it’s all too easy to let the search for affirmation become the guidepost, rather than the outcome, of value-driven pursuit of vision AND purpose.

Leaders pursuing a vision embrace the need to communicate their vision and engage in bilateral exchanges with those they lead and serve as they actively advance. Vision-driven leaders understand and intentionally cultivate broad buy-in, make tough decisions, and arrive at decisions primarily driven by pursuit of intended outcomes and impact, rather than prioritizing personal gains or a need for external validation.

On the other extreme (and unfortunately all too common in some places and spaces) are individuals with a desire to lead and to be recipients of the perceived “spoils” of leadership—respect, perceived power, admiration and more. These leaders often seek to affirm their sense of self, or attempt to lead in search of a vision. Such individuals often seek affirmation as a core part of carrying out their leadership role, which can have significant impacts on decision-making processes. Indeed, when leadership is pursued or engaged as a key venue for seeking self-affirmation or self-promotion, the most likely outcomes are decisions founded on self-preservation.

These thoughts about pursuit of vision vs. personal affirmation in leadership roles are ones that I’ve been contemplating for some time:

If you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM

The “Secret” to Excellent Mentoring…

People frequently want insight into the “secret” to great mentoring.

In response to mentoring presentations or in one-on-one conversations about mentoring, I’m often asked questions that center on whether one move vs. another is “best” for mentoring and its intended outcomes.

My answer to questioners who ask should I do either “a” or “b” in a mentoring relationship is often (frustratingly I’m sure) YES. The reasoning behind this non-committal answer is that it depends on the mentor, person being mentored, the environment or context, or other factors. Certainly, there are many general principles that work well in mentoring; yet, there are few hard and fast rules about specific actions that would always work across the board (or a general secret to success).

The truth is that the “secret” to excellent mentoring is to recognize early and often that there is NO one-size-fits all approach to excelling at mentoring. Thus, the secret is that excellent mentoring is decidedly relational.

A commitment to excellence in mentoring is truly a commitment to getting to know the person that you are mentoring—their strengths, areas of needed growth, personal goals and aspirations, and other critical factors. You need also allow them to get to know you—your mentoring style (fixed vs. flexible), your goals for mentoring, and your expectations (for yourself and them in the process). It is is through cultivating a mutual knowing, and a commitment to doing so on an ongoing basis, that you can truly (and routinely) forge a path towards mentoring success.

If you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM