Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Respectful Presence - Mentors

Respectful Presence J Mentors
In my opinion, maintaining Respectful Presence, the force generated by a person's actions and its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person's existence, is essential to life.  Whether it is how you treat others that help you or how you help living things, good Respectful Presence helps.  Saving a turtle crossing the road, taking in a stray cat or simply respecting those that helped you make our world a better place.

During my career I have had many influential people in my life.  I call them mentors and they helped me develop the skills that provide the strong foundation for my shareholders, employees, and my family.  Even though my choices lead me out of Commercial Banking into Mortgage Banking, my mentors are still held in high regard by me.  I owe a lot to my mentors Roger, Roseanne, Rick, Robert, Pat, Tom, and David; thank you.  They all work in Major Banks and compete with Southeast Mortgage; however, I maintain the highest respect for their skill and willingness to strengthen my knowledge base.  To this day, I tell the great stories about how they shaped my career.

The mentors above each created the value in my skill set that opened the next door.  Careers are ultimately driven by skill and opportunity provides the leverage.  Another valuable lesson Roger taught me fresh out of Georgia Tech was “An opportunity without skill is soon wasted”.  Roger’s other words of wisdom were successful people “never drive in traffic” and “never get on a crowded elevator”.

Life is an evolution and Respectful Presence in my opinion is doing positive things and taking the higher road when two roads present themselves.  I have tried to return the support I received from my mentors by giving people an opportunity when no one else would.  Some I have helped have been very successful and a few elected the lower road.  Given my gratitude for those that took an interest in me and my career, I struggle to define those that have no respect for someone providing an opportunity to re-start their career.  The answer may not be logical and may be driven by other factors whether tangible or intangible.  I am sure my mentors had a few bad seeds that did not grow from their watering over the years.

Resigning and accepting a new position is the evolution of our work life.  The last position opened the door for the new opportunity.  The way a person navigates this transition can either maintain mentor support or elect to forgo Respectful Presence.  Do you appreciate the High School or College you attended?  They both opened doors for you and created a base for your career to evolve. 
From time to time I see a phenomenon in our industry when the mentor becomes an enemy for some bizarre reason.  When someone is doing well they generally remain positive and display the commensurate Respectful Presence and the resource mentors provide.

One example:  I had a person who used to be in the wholesale side of the mortgage business during the few boom years before she lost her job due to the changes in that industry.  After many years of calling me and asking me for a chance to get out of a clerical processing position at a bank, I decided to help.  She was always friendly at social events and I truly thought she deserved a second chance and knew Southeast Mortgage's, SEM, reputation would give her the credibility to get that chance. 

Tenacity as long as there are barriers to behavior is one of the traits successful people possess.  Assertive vs. Aggressive:  The difference is an Assertive person steps up to the line of good social behaviors and the aggressive person tends to cross the line creating friction.  A honey badger would be considered aggressive and attack without thought where a lion would be assertive but weigh the potential of catching its prey before wasting energy.  
I assessed her strengths and weaknesses to create a training path that would leverage her skills, contacts, and her desire to attend every social function in Atlanta.  To do this right, I explained she had to invest the time to truly understand how the retail mortgage business works and why SEM exceled in service and support.  I explained that once she had the retail mortgage basics she would be allowed to align her skills with opportunity.  In the interest of doing the right thing for her by creating real skill and knowledge she needed to understand the basics of retail mortgage lending.  After 6 shaky months in processing she was allowed to explore other opportunities that were in her wheel house.  Long story short, after 10 months with SEM she asked and lobbied to be an Officer and I explained that position is earned and is not based on entitlement.  SEM Officers have years of good works under their belt and a belief in a common goal.  They have Respectful Presence.   I outlined a strategy to mentor her to the position she wanted with a list of current strengths and weaknesses.  Although she stated she understood and appreciated the plan, she resigned without notice the next pay day. 

Since her departure she fell into the bizarre phenomenon that is not quantifiable.  Unfortunately, she attempted to interfere with SEM via SEM employees who paid the price with their job.  Although disappointing, the drama she created has all the traits of a Hollywood movie.  Although entertaining, we are not sure it has real business learning value for an article.  Who knows, we may write about it.
Every now and then I learn the hard way appreciation falls on deaf ears for some and they sometimes go farther attempting to tear down those that reached out when others would not.  This example will not deter me or SEM from continuing to believe in others and creating opportunity.  When you help that one that truly appreciates what you did and you facilitate a better life, it is worth the failures along the way.  The many 20+ year people are a part of the SEM family are a testament mentoring works.

All my mentors stressed patience and belief in the bigger picture. I was in banking about 4 years before becoming a bank officer.  Given I graduated at the top of my Georgia Tech Class and passed on the higher paying consultant jobs to learn the financial industry I too felt my mentors should expedite promotions based on my academic status.  I took a different road than the example above and listened to my mentors and they were right.  Build a layered real skill set over many years that is diverse and deep and you will exceed your expectations for your career and ego.  Thank you once again to my mentor Pat, “it’s not how you start it’s how you finish and trusting those that have been before you will pave the way to your goals”.
Cal Haupt, President and CEO, Southeast Mortgage of Georgia, Inc.

No comments: