This is part II of my Keynote: NAWBO SLC 35 Year Trailblazers Conference. You can find part I here. Although I was speaking to an audience of primarily Women Business Owners…I know you will find these observations on mentoring and collaborating helpful across the board.

As I see technology create great things I also see “the higher the tech, the higher the touch” needed. Nothing replaces our ability to be connected and collaborate. Nothing engages people like personal contact. This brings me to step three in being an effective mentor and collaborator:

Step one: “Yagottawanna”
Step two: “Be Selfish:

Step Three: Don’t Outsource Hugs

A hug in this case is a metaphor. It is a kind of connection that many would prefer to do without. Their focus is singular. “Just get the app developed, the business growing, the deal done.” Maybe this is where our ability to value differences and take advantage of inclusion can serve us. Women bring a lot to the relational side of business. Much of it is natural to our value system, some of it is learned.

What I think women understand most is “I am a person, not a transaction.”
I can be very adept at transaction and get business done but without the added collaborative element of the mental, spiritual, physical relationship that hugs interactions, what’s the point? In our mentoring, we need to make sure we tell our story of our difference and its impact, its success. What do women bring to interactions that cannot be outsourced? Own that.

I have certainly focused a lot of my attention in the past few years on the value of the difference I bring to a collaborative effort. I don’t see the world transactionally as much as I see it as related…cause and effect…a polarity to be managed more than a problem to be solved. I find some points of view too simplistic and others hiding behind complexity. For all the attempts at collaboration, do we really understand where we are headed and why? Do we see the big picture or only our “part”?

When you are a mother with two children and both of them want the one blue cup and you mediate day in and day out over just such trivial and maddening things, you find yourself going to work to rest! You see the problems and dysfunction of the work place as a welcome respite from the chaos of little egos, constant logistics and demands, and instant customer feedback from little people you put in your world.

I distinctly remember thinking how much easier it was to figure out a severe payroll shortage than to settle a dispute that involved a high-pitched screeching voice on the way to the park…“She’s looking out my window!” For sure these experiences, as a mother, made me a better mentor. The non-stop nature of all there is to handle in life situations brings me to the fourth step of being a better mentor and collaborator.

Step Four: Manage Your Time

If someone asks “Do you have a minute?” Say “no”. Think of over commitment and overwhelm as twin teachers. I understand that it is hard to say no. Get over it. Who can resist the earnest plea of someone asking for your time and attention? You.

I’m not saying to say no and that’s the end of it. Manage your time. Say, “I don’t have time right now, but I do have 20 minutes for you on Tuesday at 3:00. I can give you my full attention then.” That puts you in the space to fully hear what the person needs. It allows the person who asks for your time to organize their thoughts, to be clear about what they want and need, and to be heard. “Do you have a minute?” does not. Trying to grab a minute is inefficient and disrespectful. Managing your time to give your full attention lets you can keep track of your agreements and commitments. Relationships are deeper and more committed. And, you are better able to handle those situations in which you find yourself in a collaboration with some individuals you did not pick and who are used to the “hit and run” way of operating.

You are allowed to dismiss yourself from that which your gut and intuition tells you is too fractionated and not for you. It’s ok. But, if you have to make others wrong on the way out of a dysfunctional, ineffective situation pay close attention. There is usually an opportunity for growth and maturity in your relationship skills. Leave with grace not self-righteousness. A commitment to saying no when you need to can teach you many things about yourself.

In what I recently heard a colleague call the “She-conomy”…it’s vital to understand we are masterful as women in keeping the perspective that we are all on the same side. I see many women leaving corporate America to have control over their work culture. And we who have been out here for a while can give perspective and affirmation to the best parts of mentoring and collaborating. Mentoring and collaborating is who we are as women business owners.

Ours is less a “time is money” mindset…and more a “time is relationship” mindset.

Make time count because it does. Spend less time in task and more time in relationship. One of my mentors taught me this:

I am a human being, not a human doing

The exhilaration, the pay off, the understanding that every contact counts is unmistakable with practice. As you practice being selfish to take care of yourself first, and say no in the short-term to give someone full attention in the long-term you will come to the final step to being a great mentor and collaborator. I’ll share those in my next post.

Linda Galindo is an accountability keynote, author, consultant and executive coach. This post is part two of her Trailblazer’s Speech to NAWBO’s 35 year anniversary Woman Business Owner Conference in Salt Lake City. Linda has an upcoming one-day public seminar on The Accountability Experience and you can register to attend here.

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  1. Step Three: Don’t Outsource Hugs…..
    I’m not sure if I can respond, being male…
    But I have a strong feeling about this subject…
    I never outsource hugs – I need them personally. When things are not going well at the desk – I get out from behind the desk and go talk to the staff of the clinic (which always includes some literal hugs). It rejuvenates me and I can then return to my desk and get back to the grind stone.
    On the productivity side… Giving hugs and letting people know you care directly translates into ones ability to get them to follow me as a leader. They want to do the things I ask of them rather than me just telling them to do it from a dictatorial stance. Shepherds care (and give hugs)… Sheep herders “outsource” hugs. I choose to lead.

    • Brilliant Corey. And you are correct, a physical hug is not always what we mean here. It’s full attention to someone, enveloping them in being present and listening. Often our intuition tells us which is appropriate or welcome. I recall after a keynote a male audience member came up to thank me and in what seemed out of nowhere he hugged me (it felt awkward). I chalked it up to “not present to my space and unconscious intention” — sometimes I consciously reach out and hug and other times I envelope someone in being present and listening and intend the same thing. The bottom line is as you said, “leaders let their followers know they care.” The form that demonstration of “caring” takes can’t be outsourced.

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