Who are the leaders you admire?
What kind of leader do you aspire to be?
Stan was everything to me. A functional leader, a mentor, a sponsor, a coach, and a friend.
Stan was trained at West Point in special forces. If I could use a bold analogy, I was one of his soldiers who were willing to "die" for him on the battlefield.
Stan hired me into Eaton in 2001 to initiate and lead a corporate-wide Global Sourcing Program, just as Fortune 500 companies started initiatives to reap the early benefits of global supply chain management. It was a massive change and program management endeavor with many millions of dollars of cost benefits for the company long term.
As a functional leader, Stan did only 3 things. (1) setting the vision, (2) providing what he called “air cover” - which means removing barriers, (3) giving reward and recognition.
We all have different work and social styles. Personally, I work best with leaders who give me a lot of room to expand my wings. Stan never “breathed down my neck”. Those 3 things were all that I needed to be impactful. And I was.
As a mentor, Stan used his experience to support my professional growth and helped me navigate the complex global matrix organization. He was the go-to person when there was a question that I didn't know who to ask.
As a sponsor, Stan promoted and marketed me. He spoke up for me, sponsored me for other rewarding assignments (he was known as a “talent exporter”), and opened doors for me to build relationships with other powerful leaders and mentors.
As a coach, Stan challenged, supported me and helped me see what I couldn’t see. I was a high performer. His challenge was not in the typical form of constructive criticism. One day during a dinner conversation, I expressed slight boredom with the work I was doing. Stan listened and acknowledged. Reflecting back with his observations, he challenged me to reach up ut higher, which helped ignite a connection with an intrinsic capacity within. I left dinner feeling alive and fully energized!
Stan was also a friend. He cared about my family, he had dinners with me and my husband periodically. He valued and respected me as a human being. He even said that his guidance to me was intended to help me as a growing professional in general, regardless of how long I decided to stay with the company.
Stan passed away in an accident several years later, at a brilliantly young age.
Stan has never stopped being there for me. From time to time, I find myself closing my eyes and looking up to the sky, “What would Stan say right now?”
My questions for you are:
- What do YOU want to see in a leader?
- What kind of leader do YOU want to become?
I miss you, Stan.