Saturday, July 13, 2013

What would Melissa Do?

I've had some pretty fantastic mentors in my career. My current manager is collaborative and throws me in the deep end enough to challenge me without putting too much pressure on me. He's also a really nice guy, similar to another manager I had a few years ago. They were great managers and mentors because they believed in me and led me to positive career growth. 

Apart from these managers, I've been fortunate enough to have some wonderful "invisible" mentors showing me the way. 

A few years ago I worked with a truly professional lady who held herself with grace and dignity in every situation. Her senior position in a male dominated industry meant that she had to win people over with a first impression but then hold their respect through knowledge of the product/industry without being too "ballsy" or "soft". 

She made it look easy. 

Melissa was pleasantly approachable, and seemed genuinely interested in other people. She remembered the names of her colleagues children. She remembered birthdays and special events. She knew the right questions to ask, and when to ask them. 

The way she dressed was impeccable without the superficial polish. 

But what I most admired about Melissa was that she didn't partake in office politics. She somehow floated above the gossip, the nastiness and the backstabbing; without saying anything she turned it around and rose above it. 

I'd love to be in a position to say that I followed her lead back then, but I didn't. Thats not to say I was instrumental in gossip, rumours, nastiness or politics. I wasn't. But whenever I was presented with negativity, I didn't have the skills or emotional maturity to deal with it. Until recently....

I started a new position in a great organisation much smaller than the one I was in with Melissa. My role is extremely rewarding and I am key to a major project which is about to launch and I am very excited about it. With this comes a great deal of politics which means it also comes with an opportunity to deal with it professionally. 

My mantra of the past few months is: "what would Melissa do?"

There are some key players who are very passionate about my project in very different ways. I've found it difficult dealing with different viewpoints without buying into either, and to hold my ground on what I know is right. Confrontation does not come naturally to me and I don't want it to, yet I know these conversations are crucial to making my project a success. 

I have found the way to deal with being caught in the middle of opposing viewpoints is to do what Melissa would do. She would not buy into gossip. She would not raise her voice or be confrontational. Melissa would motivate with positivity and an energy that confirmed her belief in the project. And she would be respected for it. 

Most of all, I know Melissa would believe in the project and my skills and would influence the others in the team and lead them to success. 

I really cant wait to launch this exciting new project with a very expensive bottle of champagne. I might even invite Melissa to share in the success with me!