Eric has been my mentor/coach for about a decade. He started mentoring me when I was a senior developer struggling to find ways to find room for myself on projects dominated by territorial coworkers. I would not still be in the industry without his help and guidance finding my way through several tough situations I found myself in. With his help, I have grown into a manager confident in my ability to lead teams where people feel more included and confident than I did earlier in my career.
In my most productive meetings with Eric, I come and share something that is stressing me out, generally some challenge related to working with other people or having my voice heard. He listens to me, takes the time to really understand what the root of the problem is, who the players are and what I want out of the situation. Then he shares a structured way of thinking about the situation that is always insightful. We talk through possible next steps and how they’re likely to play out.
Because he knew I wanted to grow in to a manager role, long before I was actually a manager he would talk to me about both what I could do as an IC and also what my manager could do in the situation. This gave me experience thinking through the types of levers a manager has available and how and when to use them long before I took the leap into management. This helped me grow into the manager I wanted to be much faster and more confidently than would have been possible without his mentorship and coaching.
I now ask myself “what would Eric do” when I find myself in a tough situation (or mentoring someone else in a tough situation), and more often than not, that’s enough to help me find a path forward.