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Speaker of the Week: Mentoring then and Now

In “The Corner Office” in the Business section of Sunday's New York Times, Ilene Gordon, CEO of ingredient manufacturer Ingredion, took the opportunity to pay tribute to mentoring then and now.

The Impact of a Mentor

Following business school, Ilene was responsible for acquisitions at Tenneco when a self-appointed mentor saw potential in her. He recognized her intellect, ambition, and focus, and challenged her to run those businesses she was acquiring. He put her in a job bigger than her and committed to helping her hone her business skills. Today she is on Fortune magazine's list of 50 Most Powerful Women in Business as the President/CEO of a Fortune 500 company with $6.2 billion in net sales.

Ilene's Commitment to Being a Mentoring CEO

Ilene excites people with fresh opportunities as her Mentor did for her. She leads with a mentoring mindset. Her commitment:

  • See potential in others where they don't see it themselves
  • Stretch people who demonstrate talent, people skills, and drive
  • Put people into roles they're not quite ready for
  • Allow people to grow into those big roles
  • Offer young managers an opportunity to share with the board how they're creating value for the company

Her Belief in the Lasting Impact of Mentoring

Ilene believes that people carry their mentoring experiences with them. "I'm not just hiring the person sitting there. I'm hiring the four people who mentored him. I don't think there's anybody who's successful in their role today who hasn't been mentored by somebody."

In each interview, she asks the candidate:

  • Who mentored you?
  • Who did you learn from?
  • What was their expertise? 
  • What companies did they work for?

What can we do to become a Mentoring Leader like Ilene?

  • Make a list of your own Mentors 
  • Acknowledge their influence on your success
  • Discover other people's list of influencers
  • Work to earn a spot on their influencers list
  • See what they don't see in themselves
  • Take a risk on their potential
  • Push people into their uncomfortable
  • Allow people to surprise you

It takes a true Mentoring Leader to leverage the spotlight of the NY Times to mentor aspiring, inspiring, and expiring leaders everywhere. Through her interview, Ilene influenced leaders everywhere to make a difference by leading with a mentoring mindset.

Ilene's message is beautifully encapsulated in Author Antoine de Saint-Exupery's powerful quotation: "As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it."

About Ann Tardy

Organizations such as Duke Energy and Kaiser Permanente cite Ann Tardy with building legacies by preparing people to evolve. 

As a former corporate attorney and CPA, and current entrepreneur, Ann knows business from every dynamic: financial, legal, customer, leadership, operations, and ethics. She served at two of the largest law firms in California, headed the legal department of two start-up companies, and started her own law firm to successfully launch over 75 entrepreneurs.

To make a more strategic impact, Ann launched her own consulting firm to revolutionize succession planning, mentoring, and the evolution of employees from on-boarding to up-boarding to de-boarding. As a result of her work, Ann allows leaders to leverage a strategic talent advantage. 

Ann cycled from San Francisco to New Jersey to produce the documentary Work Matters. In addition, Ann is a frequent keynote speaker and the author of three books on mentoring and leadership.

Twitter: @LifeMoxie

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lifemoxie

Blog:  lifemoxie.com/blog

Contact info: [email protected] / 415.828.7799