Posted By Sue Pelletier, June 05, 2014 at 3:19 PM, in Category: Next-Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce
Tonya Jackson, Executive Vice President, Global Supply Chain Operations with Lexmark International, credits an informal mentor she had early in her career with helping her to make the decision to move out of a very vertical R&D position and into a more horizontal role in the environmental and sustainability group. "He pointed out that, while I was doing very well in the vertical space, Lexmark is a very broad company" and gaining a deeper knowledge of the full company operations would stand her in good stead. And it did.
Closely related to mentoring and management style is career coaching, said Tammy Gilbert, Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Trinity Industries, Inc., whose company holds regular gatherings of a group of women who provide career guidance and support to each other. Trinity also reaches out to find and train women welders, who are more likely to appreciate the regular hours and working conditions of working at the factory, as opposed to the oil rigs most male welders gravitate toward. "They also provide a fresh perspective that enable them to find things that can be improved on the floor." Trinity also provides Toastmaster sessions to help women gain confidence and ability in expressing themselves in a manufacturing environment.
Coaching and mentoring should come from both directions on the career ladder, they said—there are things to learn from both those more seasoned, and those who are new to the environment and bring a fresh perspective to the work. Also look to add people who don't share your personality type or mindset to add to your team so you get a balanced perspective.
One key, they agreed, was being willing to move out of their comfort zone. "Be bold," said Gilbert, who credits a bold comeback to a tough job interview for taking her career in a new direction. "If you haven't made a mistake, you haven't learned anything," added Reese. But, she said, always have a Plan B just in case. "Show leadership both that you're willing to take a risk, and that you have a plan to recover" if it doesn't work out.
Written by Sue Pelletier
I am a contributing editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Journal.