How to make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor?

It is well-known that mentors are important characters that help with the professional development of individuals. This is not an exception for law students who plan to one day become successful attorneys or start their own law firms. Mentors help to break that gap between experienced attorneys and the ones who just graduated from law school.

Mentorship needs to be a both-sided relationship between two individuals: the mentor and the mentee. Mentorship should be enriching and mutually beneficial. However, it is important to consider that all mentors needed to be mentees and that is why it is so important to find the right mentor. Depending on the type of mentor you have will be the type of mentor you will become.

In order for mentees to become great mentors, they need to receive great knowledge from their mentorship experience. Wisdom and useful advice are also important to set some standards and references for the future law mentor.

In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will review what is to be a law mentor and how do mentees take that step to become successful law mentors.

Related: How Mentors Inspire Their People Everyday

Being a mentee

As a mentee, your responsibility is to choose a mentor that can actually suit your needs. This is very important in law since you are only allowed to specialize in certain fields under that approval of a mentor. A mentor is not necessarily someone who sings in for the role. It can be anyone you are close to during the last years of law school or right after graduating from it.

Many mentors come in the shape of superiors who happen to work at the same place that you do. This is why it is very important for you to be surrounded by professionals that can give some key information and advice to your formation. This means that as a mentee you probably won’t have a boss who is constantly lecturing. But, a figure who is always willing to answer questions and help you grow professionally.

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Sometimes, those who once were mentees and now are mentors look back at the history and realize that some of their best mentors were not formally described as such. They were individuals with whom they could hold an enriching professional relationship with.

Those who are about to become mentors after being mentees should always keep in mind the important pieces of advice they once received from their mentors. Being a law mentee is about having the opportunity to observe, meet, and building long-lasting relationships. This happens because in the future you will want to share your skills, knowledge, and connections with those you are mentoring.

Becoming a mentor

Having said that, how do you make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor? There are different answers to this question.

First, as a law mentee, you will have many mentors along your career. This will mean that you will know many attorneys and they will know you back. Having a nice background is highly important to become a successful attorney.

In many cases, a former mentee who is now a successful attorney will become a mentor by simply helping those individuals who just got out of law school. This way, the person who used to be a mentee will start to give hints, advice and pass knowledge to a new generation of attorneys who are eager to learn. This mentor – mentee relationship won’t be formally established but will help the mentee take the right path.

Another way for a former mentee to become a mentor is thanks to the law-student decision. It has been said that mentorship is a both-sided relationship. This is how many law-students or recently graduated lawyers look out for the type of mentor they want to have. After this research takes places, they will approach to their potential mentor to start a mentorship relationship.

When both the mentor and the mentee feel comfortable and find common ground to grow a mutually beneficial relationship, the mentoring process starts. However, this is not yet a formal mentoring relationship. It is an agreement between two people on the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

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The last way in which a former mentee can become a law mentor is by actually growing as an attorney. This will mean that the attorney will have a determinant background in the law practice. Also, it will mean that it is a successful and knowledgeable figure. When this happens, usually a law association spots the former mentee and offers it to become a mentor.

There are some associations in the United States who are dedicated to helping law-students become experienced and well-rounded professionals. These associations look for mentor candidates based on the student’s needs and want.

Bottom line, there is not only one way in which a law mentee could become a mentor. It is a process in which knowledge is gradually gained. It is also a new step that needs to be taken in order to help the new generations of attorneys to come be successful.

5 Basic mentoring principles you should assimilate

If you are reading this blog, it is possible that mentoring is already your endeavor, or maybe you are considering working as a mentor. In the latter case (but not less important regarding the first one,) it is essential that you know the basis of an appropriate mentoring; what are the guidelines that will help and guide you through the fascinating and sometimes complex world of helping others find ways. So, in this post, you will find four basic principles that you should evaluate and remember during your study, research, and, above all, on the battlefield. I hope that this information is of your total pleasure and usefulness, and, in that case, do not forget to share it with whom you consider that may appreciate it.

Recommended: 7 Reasons Why You Should Become a Mentor

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  1. Trust

The relationship between a mentor and mentee is, above all, a relationship of trust. Do not think that a title will automatically open the door to someone’s mind and heart. Remember that someone who sits in the mentee chair often feels that someone will tell him what to do with his or her life, and this is something that most people do not enjoy.

No one enjoys feeling like a child again, at least in this sense. So, remember it well: Trust is something you must earn. The key question here is how you break that wall of institutionality between you and the mentee, how you show that you are also a human being who, like him or her, also needs help from time to time. Be casual, joke a little, and establish a bond. That is not less professional at all.

  1. Voluntariness

This principle is intrinsically linked to the former one. Remember that the mentee is there because he needs help, not because someone is forcing him or her to do so, and this element is perhaps one of the most valuable factors of mentoring: The will to learn, to be guided. For this reason, you should always ensure that this relationship is voluntary.

Never allow anyone to force your mentee to initiate a mentoring process with you, and, above all, be careful to condition or manipulate the will of your mentee in case he or she decides to end the process. The only link that reinforces the relationship between a mentor and a mentee is the trust and willingness of both.

  1. The mentee directs each session

Remember it well: Mentoring is not coaching. Unlike the latter, it is the mentee who defines the issues to be addressed in each mentoring session. Although the mentor has a more general perspective of the knowledge the mentee is acquiring, the relationship between the two is not exactly a lecture. The mentee has a need about a specific topic and will approach the mentor to help him/her, above all, to ask the right questions that will help him/her to find satisfactory answers. This is vital: Learn to recognize the differences between mentoring and coaching. Coaching is not a bad thing, of course not. Simply, each process (mentoring and coaching) has different goals, methods, and standards.

Read also: Is there a difference between a mentor and a coach? by Suzzanne Uhland

  1. Patience

Really, there is no need to run in a hurry. Each person assimilates knowledge at a different rate and relates to it in a way that other people may not. So, be patient and take the time to complete each step of the mentoring process. No matter how much you know about a topic, you will realize that being on the side of the mentor will force you to learn much more, and what you already know will become a challenge somewhere along the way. Mentoring is a bilateral relationship in several senses. You, as a mentor, will also be mentee sometimes. So, go slow if necessary.

  1. It is all about goals and the way to achieve them

Every mentoring relationship is circumscribed around the achievement of objectives for which the relationship is to begin. In this sense, mentor and mentee must define their objectives before starting the whole planning process, and, above all, to make the goals tangible for the subsequent measurement of their accomplishment. It is important to keep in mind that a mentoring process is a learning process, and, therefore, it is useful to differentiate performance goals from learning goals. The latter contribute to the former, even so, in a mentoring process, it is important to work on both axes, since they re-feed each other. Likewise, it is interesting to define and differentiate the target goals from the intermediate objectives that will allow you to divide the mentoring process into small steps.

The more defined the objectives, the measurement process will be simpler, and there will be less ambiguity.

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It is very important that you – as a mentor – dialogue with your mentee about these principles before beginning the process. These (and not just these) principles will be the limits that will help you both to know what mentoring is, what it is not, and where you should direct this feedback relationship.

 

Is there a difference between a mentor and a coach?

It is undeniable that the hype around coaching and mentoring is real: people hear a lot about both things, especially under today’s fast-paced and stressful circumstances. However, as the saying says, plenty of people have managed to go further that they thought they could just because someone else firmly believed they could. Although the terminology, and the words «mentoring» and «coaching», are seemingly—and often used—interchangeable, reality dictates otherwise; however, one thing is certain: both mentors and coaches can get to be highly meaningful and worthwhile resources. But, what is the difference between these two? And, moreover, how can people know which one they really need?

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Suzzanne Uhland has already mentioned valuable things about mentoring and different approaches to finding the right one irrespective of the stage; nonetheless, it is wise to first determine the distinction between mentors and coaches. Normally, or at least how tradition has previously shown, mentors were commonly assigned within a corporate organization to help its employees get acquainted with their roles. Today, and as of the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution and the digital era, mentors have shifted towards a more holistic approach and act as mere advisers regardless of whether they receive any kind of compensation or not.

Today’s most common connotation around mentors is that they embody successful persons who are always willing to share what they have learned and the wisdom they have acquired throughout their lives to provide accurate and useful insights to entrepreneurs and pretty much anyone willing to listen. One key aspect, nonetheless, is that they function differently: they always stay in a reactive-expecting position, helping people once they come across any sort of challenge. Thus, and even though a mentor may not have enough expertise in the mentee’s field, they are quite proficient at navigating the corporate world and the business field.

And that is an overall view of the mentoring end. Coaches, on the other hand, often have enough expertise in a particular field, and most of the times such expertise matches the field of the people they are helping. In general, coaches possess several certifications and strong and solid management skills. In the corporate world, coaches play a vital role in supporting different CEOs or venture capitalists as well as entrepreneurs. Their main function is to help them foresee any possible challenge in the upcoming future and come up with effective ideas on how to proceed and tackle them as they arise. Their nature, all in all, is somewhat proactive: coaches definitely enjoy participating and coming up with ideas that may help their customers and their coachees.

The intricacies of the relationship between a mentor and a mentee are rather open-ended: it can last for decades, whereas regular and traditional coaching happens for one specific reason, and once the issue has been addressed or solved, the relationship normally ends.

Which seems like the wisest choice?

After considering the aforementioned aspects in regard to the different intricacies of both relationships, people should already know which type of relationship suits them best and which would serve a much greater purpose; nonetheless, it is wise to consider the following aspects as well:

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Consider where are you now

Perhaps, one of the greatest factors, if not the most important, is the stage of the journey. An entrepreneurship enthusiast seeking to thrive in her or his business often needs a mentor who can provide guidance as to how to overcome basic challenges and how to tackle the issues that often arise when establishing a business. At this point, a mentor seems to be quite a good choice given the fact that they can provide a much wider spectrum of advice and connections that might come in handy for the business. As businesses grow, they tend to get more uncanny, and issues become more nuanced than in early stages. Once the business has reached this point, working alongside a coach seems a much better idea, especially if the coach also happens to work in the same industry; thus, the coachee will get a much better perspective towards the future.

Name your needs

Irrespective of the stage of the journey, if a particular individual has already identified a specific need, the wisest choice leans towards working alongside a coach. 

For example, if a startup or an already-established company is experiencing corporate development difficulties, which in turn prevent the company from scaling its business, a coach with expertise in such field will certainly be much better; however, if the same individual has not identified and named specific needs, and all she or he needs is proper guidance, a mentor would serve a much better purpose.

 

 

 

 

The Best Uses For Technology In Mentoring Inside Today’s Workplace

Today more than ever, technology is a present influence in every single aspect of our lives. We are using it to stay in touch with those who are far away, it helps us make our jobs a lot easier, we can entertain ourselves but also study, learn and have knowledge about the world we live in, available right at our fingertips.

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That ubiquitous nature of technology has made it so that we always try to find ways to fit it into all of our activities and figure out how we can enhance the way we interact with the things that surround us. When it comes to mentoring, the situation is no difference, as a matter of fact it becomes more than simply a choice that we may feel inclined to consider, it is something absolutely necessary in order to fully take advantage of the tools at our disposal and how we can use them to give mentoring a wider reach and a more effect application. Technology can affect mentoring at the personal level, meaning where the rubber meets the road and the mentor and mentee actually convene to look at realistic work plans to go about achieving their goals. New technological advances are also crucial when it comes to putting together a mentoring program for a company, as these important resources will shape the way the program works, how participants are matched and what sort of impact can be expected from being part of this initiative.

Convenience is one of the main factors that technology enhances and brings with it when involved in mentoring. Starting for example with the breakdown of geographical barriers, as mentor and mentee do not have to be in the same place in order to work together. The location is no longer a hindrance when it comes to finding a mentor, or even a group of mentors that can help someone achieve its goals and grow. Not having to stay in one place in order to receive guidance can help mentees use their time wisely and dedicate energy to their mentoring process that would otherwise be wasted with traveling, or by settling under the wing of one mentor that can only help them with one area of their process. The convenience of technology can allow you to have a coach that can help you find balance with the way you handle your personal affairs and creativity, while also giving you the chance of having a professional relationship with another mentor who aids you with career advancement within your own field of work.

Another great advantage that technology brings to the world of mentorships is the way that it has made communication between people so seamlessly. Constant communication between mentor and mentee is one of the cornerstones of a successful professional relationship and nothing has revolutionized the way we communicate like the new technologies. Today you can have video meetings on the go, send pictures, files, videos and audio files with a tool that you can both carry inside your pockets and that keeps you connected to the largest network in existence. Communication within the new technologies are erasing any type of issues that could have arisen in earlier times when planning how to maintain mentorships partners connected.

Reports, documents, and files pertaining the mentoring process can also be accessed by partners with a simple click through one of the many cloud services that make them editable by all parties involved and immediately update any changes made to them. Remember that having a well-placed system for gauging progress can sometimes be just as important as the progress itself

Training is another aspect that has changed so much and so quickly, that we can laugh today by thinking of our reactions if we were told 15 years ago, that you could find so much training, resources and research material online and that you could access all of it from your phone. Companies are understanding this and seeing the great benefits that it brings to their employees. E-learning paired with mentoring programs that are relevant and that take advantage of technology are great not just for the mentees, but also for mentors who in most cases, are people susceptible to continue using time-tested practices but tend to ignore technological breakthroughs that could exponentially enhance their own methods.

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Technology breaches the gap that sometimes appears when we talk about mentoring being a two-way street, as younger generations are better adapting to the changes innovation brings about and can contribute to the partnerships by coming up with strategies and ways to use those technologies to make the most out of the mentorship. Working together to find these strategies is an excellent exercise for participants and also a great way to adjust your mentorship to benefit all parties involved at the moment, and perhaps even those who will come afterwards.

For more great articles on mentoring and how you can make it work for you, check out our publications at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog.

The Reasons Why Mentorship Programs Fail

Mentoring programs are becoming more and more popular as organizations continue to see the great advantages they can bring to their individual members and their company integrity as a whole. Mentoring relationships help junior employees find guidance, direction and a practical way to direct their efforts towards the advancement of their professional career and also their personal endeavors. Senior members can also find great benefits from being part of a mentoring program as they can hone their own leadership skills, learn new abilities and widen their network while making a real difference in someone else’s life. Companies see a lower turnover and a higher index of job satisfaction amongst employees when they introduce mentoring programs into the organization. So why is it that something that is so positive for all parties involved sometimes fails? What are the most common mistakes organizations make when establishing their mentorship programs? That is the topic we will look in depth today here, in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog.

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One of the most common mistakes made at the time of creating a mentoring program can happen right from the start. This mistake is a lack of a balance in structure. Remember in our other article when we talked about the necessary steps to take when creating a mentoring program? We mentioned that right from the beginning, you must set clear goals and try planning exactly what you want to accomplish with the initiative. With that being said, you start to create a structure that will make those goals become attainable and that structure has to be based on the type of mentors and mentees that you are going to have as participants of the program. You have to understand that different individuals have diverse preferences and communication styles. Sometimes, the person in charge of the program fails to take that into consideration and their structure ends up lacking in flexibility or sometimes it even becomes so relax that it could be considered inexistent. The trick is to reach a balance in the structure that helps those who need to maintain their discipline and that doesn’t get in the way of those who are more organized and are able to better manage their time.

Another big mistake to keep in mind is poor training given to mentors and mentees. The problem is that some organizations feel that all they have to do is give people the opportunity to team up and they stop there. That is not the way you go about making sure that your mentorships are successful because you are abandoning your people to their own devices and failing them as an organization. Sometimes there are external factors like geographical constraints that make it difficult to gather your people and have them attend training sessions, but there are other ways of getting it done using the latest technologies. In order to keep your program alive, you must nurture its most crucial aspect and that is the human component.

Poor matching is perhaps one of the main reasons why mentoring relationships fail. Matching criteria must go hand-to-hand with the purpose of the program. The problem is that sometimes that purpose is so vague that people fail to understand what they are looking for in a partner to start a mentoring relationship. You cannot blame your participants if you left them to choose blindly the person they are going to work with.

If the purpose of your program is clear, then you can identify possible candidates and start matching them before the initiative even begins. It is true that in most cases you want partnerships to be formed in a very organic way, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some planned component to it. Like we have said a few times before, it’s all about balance and finding the perfect dose of structure and freedom to choose.

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The last factor we are going to explore is the lack of clear benchmarks for success. This happens very often with companies that are hasty to start a mentoring program to meet some expectations but fail to realize the true responsibilities that come along with it and ignore the fact that the road to success is made out of many small stations along the way. Benchmarks are small goals that help track success and that motivate participants because it allows them to clearly map their improvement. Success must be measured and gauged so it can be repeated and so effective practices can be studied in order to implement them in other areas of the program.

This last part because an issue because sometimes organizations rush towards an end goal but forget that when it comes to mentoring it isn’t so clearly cut. What works for some may not be so evident for others, and while something may be seen like the norm in a company, it can be new territory to others.

 

Great Ways For Improving Your Mentoring Skills

Effective mentoring is an art, a science, a set of skills and a matter of constantly working on it to become better each day. The first step to becoming and a great mentor and remaining so, is to accept and understand that the mentoring process is a journey and not simply a patch that works every time and that is equally effective in all situations. Proper mentoring is about adapting and constantly adjusting to different surroundings, various people and the never-ending business landscape that changes at a pace that is usually set by your particular line of work and the external factors that are constantly forcing that environment to evolve. Being a great mentor means understanding change and adjusting accordingly, while at the same time being able to identify how your experience best translates to the new challenges placed upon young professionals today and how you are also affected by that evolution and the need to remain relevant as well.

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Here in Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we try to provide you with the best mentoring advice that includes not only the basis on how to form this great relationship, but also help you find ways to improve your mentoring skills constantly and avoid remaining stagnant in such a fast moving environment.

Let us take a look at some of the best ways you can improve your mentoring skills and continue to exercise techniques that will allow you to always be ready to provide the best possible advice for those whom you take under your wing.

Always evaluate your own attitude towards mentoring.

Mentoring is definitely not for everyone. Leading a mentoring relationship is about the experience but more than anything is about attitude. Do you have the right attitude to mentor? Perhaps in this moment you do, but what about tomorrow? It is easy to fall in the routine and let mentoring become something that you will end up doing in autopilot, but is that the best you can give to those who look up to you for direction?

Being a mentor is about sacrifice and patience, and that means that it may take a toll on you with the passing of time. A responsible mentor always surveys their inner self to see if they are up to the challenge before getting involved in a mentoring relationship because they understand that their attitude is one of the most important aspects that determines the outcome of the partnership. Know your limits and be fair with your mentees.

Choose your mentees wisely.

Understand that while almost everyone can benefit from having a mentor, no mentor is right for every single situation. Choosing your mentees carefully will not only benefit them to get the most out of the partnership but it will also help you greatly to be benefited as well. Remember mentoring is a two-way street and a mutually beneficial mentorship is the best type of relationship you can have. In the end, you will both be grateful that your choice was deliberate and consciously made.

Understand the importance of the mentoring contract.  

It is up to both of you how formal your mentoring contract ends up being, however, there are some important points that every mentoring contract should be absolutely clear about. Experience is something you will only receive with due time, however, the use of tools and the understanding of their importance like in the case of the mentoring contract, is something that will go a long way on improving your own mentoring skills. The mentoring contract has to be specific about how long you two will work together. Very seldom you can give this contract a specific amount of time, as it is easier and more beneficial to decide the length of the relationship based on the goals that you wish to achieve. Identifying and agreeing upon those goals is where your experience becomes so useful. Sometimes mentees are not even sure how they can measure their own success and how they can judge that they are advancing or not, towards the goals they have set for themselves. It is your duty as the mentor to motivate them and help them see their own advancement in times when they become discouraged.

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Be committed to the relationship and expect that same level of commitment back.

Always be respectful of your meetings and the time you set aside for each other. Sometimes it becomes very easy to cancel meetings or postpone them for later dates. This can become a problem as it can turn into a habit and quickly damage the relationship while possibly losing all that has been accomplished so far. Avoid multitasking and instead, try to respect your time together as something sacred for both of you. These will instill discipline not only on your mentee but on you as well, something that will definitely help you greatly in your path of becoming a better mentor. Each person that you help will teach you lessons and add more tools to your arsenal so you can be prepared even better for the next challenge.

The Best Qualities That A Mentor Should Have.

A good mentoring relationship is an outstanding tool to help new employees and young professionals in the field to make sense of many of the hurdles and challenges they will face in an always-changing business world. Are newcomers the only ones that can be benefited by a mentorship? Absolutely not, mentoring is something that can help anyone at any level of the organization who feels like they could benefit from the advice and guidance of someone who is more experienced and whose opinion they value and find particularly helpful in their career advancement. Here in Suzzanne Uhland’s, we have previously talked about the most important aspects to consider when choosing a mentor, so today we want to focus on the mentor’s side and discuss what we consider are the best qualities a mentor should have in order to be the most qualified person for the job and truly make an impact on the life of those he takes under his wing. These are some of the most important qualities a mentor should have, listed in no particular order.

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Willingness to share

A mentor is someone who is already considered an expert in his field or area of expertise, but this expertise and professional accomplishments are not useful unless there is a willingness and ability to share them with mentees. A good mentor is aware and understands what it’s like to start out in the field and that is why they are the most qualified person to serve a guide to those who seek their professional and personal advancement. Mentors are not selfish and they do not hold back information as they share everything they deem relevant to help their mentees get ahead.

Always prepared

A mentor takes their role seriously and understands the serious commitment they must have to their mentees and their process. Preparing for each session is just one aspect of their readiness, as they must be prepared to answer all questions and find strategies to tackle possible challenges alongside their protégés. A great mentor is respectful of their responsibility and knows that they must be ready to guide the sessions and not let them become a simple process of answering questions and giving feedback. The mentor must be prepared in such way that they can answer questions about topics the mentee may be interested in pursuing or have questions about.  

A real interest in the mentoring relationship

Like we mentioned before, a great mentor does not take their responsibility lightly and that is why they are absolutely invested in the success of their mentee. A great mentor understands their effect in the relationship with their mentee and are interested in making the best possible impact they can accomplish. They understand that success is shared between both parties and they make everything within their ability to provide their mentee with an empowering mentoring relationship while at the same time continuing their own personal growth and becoming even more knowledgeable within their own field.

Effective communication skills

One of the most important things a mentor can do is always provide guidance and nurturing feedback. Effective communication skills mean being able to get your message across while at the same time being honest with your mentee. This area is one of the most valued in a mentoring relationship, as it is important to receive feedback in order to be able to identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and thus creating a plan to follow to address those shortcomings.  

Curiosity and eagerness to learn

A great mentor understands the need to continue learning and to stay away from stagnation. A person who is at a place in their career where they can no longer grow and do not have any higher aspirations will not make a good mentor because they lack the understanding for continuous improvement of their personal and professional persona. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that a good mentor must stay in touch with what goes on in the industry and stay on top of new changes and the way such industry transforms with time. All of this knowledge is highly important and must be always be present within the mentor’s way of approaching the mentoring relationship.

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Respected by others in the organization

Mentees look up to mentors for being the one filling the roles they want to occupy later within the organization. A person with a great reputation and that is respected by peers and subordinates alike is someone whose opinion will matter to a mentee. Someone whose work is valued within the company is a great example for mentees to follow because this person can have a great insight into what it takes to be successful in such way that the people around you admire you. One of the things we have mentioned time and again is the importance of setting a great example for those you lead, and there are few things that can testify for a great example to follow than those who have earned the respect of those around them.