Barbara. Role Models, Mentors and Heroes

posted May 7th, 2010 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Barbara whether she had role models, mentors, heroes and, if so, what she saw in how they behaved that she found admirable or influential and how these people helped her grow and develop, in essence, what she saw as the impact having a mentor or role model had on her success. She said: “Your parents are probably your first mentors and role models to a large extent. My mum didn’t work but I had an aunt who did have a career and I had a close relationship with her so she was definitely a role model early on.  I always looked up to her and respected her and felt she was a strong woman so having that role model early on was definitely a factor.” 


She said: “A lot of my heroes and people I look up to have been sports heroes because of my love for sports. The ones I really respect are the ones that are focused and committed to what they’re trying to accomplish. They have goals and know how to pursue those goals which is definitely something that I’ve always looked up to.  In terms of my working career, I’ve had a chance to work for people who have been very successful, including some very entrepreneurial people who have been able to build a company and I’ve really respected them for what they’ve been able to accomplish. I know in my own situation, I’m probably not as much of a risk taker as some of the entrepreneurs that I’ve run across and had a chance to work with.  One of the things that I admire about entrepreneurs is that they are willing to take risks. They tend to be very optimistic people and they think whatever they are doing is going to work. They are always very positive and they don’t think about the downside.  There is always a downside and sometimes they can be too optimistic and they run into problems because of it but having that attitude where you think you’re going succeed and that there’s no way you will fail, in fact, the thought of failure doesn’t enter into your consciousness, gives you the motivation and the strength to pursue things.  I like working for people like that because I don’t have the same risk-taking personality, although over time this side of yourself develops based on your experience. Also, you gain confidence in terms of knowing what will work and what won’t work because you have seen and experienced a lot of different situations, successful and unsuccessful.” 


“A lot of times if people had realized what they were getting into they probably wouldn’t have pursued it to the same extent but I admire those qualities and I work well with somebody who has the qualities I don’t have because I am a very objective thinker.  Sometimes entrepreneurial people are just very optimistic and don’t see all the things that could go wrong or things that they need to protect themselves against and because I’m thinking about those things you can develop a real relationship of mutual respect where you’re bringing something to the table.” 


“I’ve had a chance to work for three very entrepreneurial bosses that have built organizations from the ground up. I don’t see myself doing that but I like being involved in the process and I like seeing companies grow and develop over time. Being in a high growth environment tends to be exciting. You work on a lot of transactions and it can be very rewarding but it’s not something I would likely do on my own. However, when you work in those environments, you learn a lot and you end up doing a lot of different things, partly because those environments don’t tend to be as structured so you end up getting involved in a lot of different things and in most cases a little bit of everything which means it can be interesting.  I’ve learned a lot in those situations with the entrepreneurs who have really built and driven those organizations.”


I asked Barbara whether she saw herself as a role model, mentor, hero or leader. She said: “I’d like to think of myself as a leader. Whenever you have a large group of people working for you, you are called to be a leader because these people are looking to you  for leadership.  When you have a certain amount of responsibility in an organization, people automatically look to you for leadership. On this basis, I see myself as a leader.  I try to be a mentor to people who are in the early stages of their careers. It’s something I’ve always really enjoyed doing. A lot of friends and people I’ve worked with have sought me out for advice on their careers and I really enjoy doing that.  Anyone who has a certain amount of work experience can be a mentor.  I believe you have a responsibility to lead if you are in a position in an organization where you have a lot of people reporting to you and a lot of functional responsibility. You need to be a leader. I think about it and I try to behave in a way that sets a good example. I think that’s important.  For me, it’s not just about doing a good job; it’s about being a good role model to the extent that you can.”


What Strikes Me?


Parents are probably our first mentors and role models.


Athletes can be role models by their demonstration of traits like focus on and commitment to what they’re trying to accomplish. They have goals and they pursue them.


There is a lot to be learned working in an entrepreneurial environment.


Working with people with different personalities than our own can teach us a lot.


It’s not just about doing a good job; it’s about being a good role model.


We can choose to be a leader and behave in a way which sets an example.


What Strikes You?


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