Ursula Burns, Chairwoman and CEO at Xerox, names ”great leadership” as one of the essential characteristics of a company’s success. She should know: Burns has been working for the document giant since 1980 and running it since 2009. She knows a thing or two about great leadership and what it takes to achieve it. In fact, Burns was recently featured in an article by Fast Company in which she makes the case that mentors—and not just any mentors, but the right mentors—make leaders.
Burns’s story of humble beginnings and triumphant success demonstrates how anyone, given hard work and the right guidance, can realize their leadership goals. She’s at the top now, sure, but she wasn’t always there, and she credits her mentors for putting her on track to becoming the woman she is today. Burns advises aspiring leaders to start early and be proactive in finding guidance from those who are most suited to launch a specific career.
Part of Burns’s philosophy is the importance of building relationships through trust and open communication. If someone wants to find the right mentor, they must be clear and honest about their goals, what they hope to gain, and what they bring to the relationship. A mentee is not going to succeed with just anyone, which is why the process of matching mentor and mentee based on their skills, areas of expertise, experience, career goals, and expectations is so important.
Like Burns, we at MentorCloud believe that pairing mentees with the right mentors is fundamental to both effective mentorships and career success. The advantage that today’s rising leaders have over Burns is that they no longer have to seek out suitable mentors all on their own.
Mentees can now harness technology to access global networks like MentorCloud and tap into pools of expertise that were heretofore inaccessible. An organization cut off by a strict hierarchy of executives, managers, supervisors, and direct reports is suddenly transformed into an open system of communication and knowledge sharing. Likewise, entire divisions of employees are brought together in ways that were once rendered impossible by geographical boundaries.
Burns learned the value of selecting the right mentors early on, and once she had the right support, she never looked back. Her success is a testament to the power of mentorship where it is most suited. Business professionals who see themselves as future leaders should take note and align themselves with the right mentors. You never know. You just might find yourself matched with a powerful leader like Ursula Burns.
If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.