Leaders and Mentors

Many, many, many years ago while searching for an internship during my last semester in graduate school, my faculty advisor offered some cautionary words about a placement I was seriously considering.  The placement was with Charlotte Arnold, a force of nature and Executive Director of a statewide organization headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called The Program for Female Offenders, Inc.  The organization was named by clients whose word of mouth was the single greatest mechanism for recruitment.  Whether in the community or in detention facilities, clients would advise others to “go see someone at The Program – they’ll help.”  The criticism leveled by my faculty advisor was that the Executive Director expected students to do what he deemed menial tasks. This could include being asked to sweep the floor at the work release facility.  As it turned out, I took the internship and learned at the knee of an incredibly dynamic leader who routinely took risks in order to develop me.  And yes, she expected the floor to be swept, and would do it herself if it needed to be done.  The two mottos I learned from her were: “there but for the grace of God go I,” and, “Carpe Diem”.

Leaders beget leaders and her early mentorship left me with lifelong lessons about the difference between being the boss and being a leader.  

Who have been your mentors?  Who are they now?  Are you a mentor for an emerging leader?

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