A recent post in the New York Times featured Vice Admiral Edward Straw. Straw graduated from the US Naval Academy and rose through the ranks until he ran the Defense Logistics Agency. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is an agency in the United States Department of Defense, with more than 26,000 civilian and military personnel throughout the world. Located in 48 states and 28 countries, DLA provides supplies to the military services and supports their acquisition of weapons repair parts and other material. Upon his retirement Admiral Straw led Estee Lauder’s global operations.
Today he’s a mentor, a free mentor to small businesses.
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
— Famous Proverb
What makes a good mentor? The characteristics of a mentor come through in our day to day interactions with those around us. Mentors come in all shapes, styles, and forms. If you stop to think about some of the mentors that have inspired you or even some that have infuriated you, the qualities of a good mentor; their skills will become apparent.
When we think about the characteristics of a mentor, we often think of mentors that are dynamic, which calls each of us to act or to follow.
In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alliums or Anchialus. He was left in charge of Odysseus’ son when Odysseus went off to the Trojan War. In English, mentor is a term meaning someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague.
We all are mentors. In work, in life we counsel, advise and guide our children, families and co-workers. What are some characteristics of good mentors?
Honesty – Display sincerity, integrity, and candor in all your actions. Deceptive behavior will not inspire trust.
Competent – Your actions should be based on reason and moral principles. Do not make decisions based on childlike emotional desires or feelings.
Forward-looking Help Set goals and have a vision of the future. The vision must be owned throughout the organization.
Inspiring – Display confidence in all that you do. By showing endurance in mental, physical, and spiritual stamina, you will inspire others to reach for new heights.
Intelligent – Read, study, and seek challenging assignments.
Straightforward – Use sound judgment to make good decisions at the right time.
Imaginative – Make timely and appropriate changes in your thinking, plans, and methods. Show creativity by thinking of new and better goals, ideas, and solutions to problems. Be innovative!
Vice Admiral Edward Straw questioned if he would be a good mentor to small businesses. The gift of time and experience cannot be overlooked when thanking a mentor. He’ll only work with firms that manufacture products.