AYP Magazine - June/July 2014 - (Page 20)
I ENCOURAGE VARIETY
in mentors-across ages,
genders, life, and career
outside the YMCA.
Dr. Diana Bilimoria
professor and chair of organizational
behavior at Case Western Reserve
University's Weatherhead School of
experience for both sides. Laying the groundwork for what each side expects and
needs leads to the best mentorship experiences.
Mezile's mentors looked out for him, helping him get connected with others
within the national YMCA network. They introduced him to others that they
thought he should know, thereby expanding his mentoring possibilities.
"I had a number of mentors in the association, and when I got ready to move
up or positions came open, my mentors recommended me for jobs," Mezile says.
"That was one of the ways they were a big help to me." And eventually, when
Mezile was in a position to recommend somebody in his mentoring network for a
speciﬁc career opening, he returned the same help.
It is sometimes challenging for younger managers to seek advice, according to
Mezile, because they don't want to be perceived as being weak or unconﬁdent. Actually, the opposite is true: Asking for a mentor is a sign of growing leadership and
indicates a professional who is open to learning and new ways of thinking, he says.
Unfortunately, with the stretch on resources and extreme demands on time in
today's Y environment, Mezile believes that fewer Y professionals are making time
and effort to engage in mentoring relationships, a trend he ﬁnds deeply disappointing. He is concerned that the Y tradition of mentoring that he beneﬁtted
from as a young professional may be falling by the wayside because of a shift in
focus to ﬁnancial pressures. Running a successful branch takes constant fundraising and efforts to grow membership, meaning some managers don't make the
time to mentor because they believe they are simply too busy. However, Mezile
strongly encourages AYP members to consider the value of building new leaders
from within through effective mentoring.
To help promote and support mentoring, Mezile recommends YMCA leaders have a metaphorical and a literal open door. Leadership being proactive and
encouraging helps Y professionals to develop their own mentoring relationships.
Making sure top managers get to know everybody on their staff by mingling
with them in meetings and less formal YMCA settings can set a tone of approachability. Removing any sense of fear can allow even more reserved staffers to feel
comfortable asking for a mentoring relationship. Before his recent retirement,
Mezile often sought out and began a dialogue with promising younger managers
whom he perceived to be open to mentoring.
"I see how successful corporations develop their own leaders through mentoring, and I hope we in the YMCA movement can get back to doing that too in a
bigger way," Mezile says. "I found a spirit of collegiality and shared values in AYP,
and I sincerely hope we are going to pass those on to each other through mentoring. The Y has a great tradition of building our leaders and being mentors. I am
very proud of being a mentor. That's why I still do it today. I see it as a great way to
be and stay involved."
Joanne C. Gerstner (email@example.com) is a Metro Detroit-based freelance writer and non-ﬁction book author.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AYP Magazine - June/July 2014
AYP Magazine - June/July 2014