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Pay it Forward

I have been fortunate throughout my career for the stars to align — to engage with highly accomplished senior executives, with whom I connect, who are willing to invest in me, including challenging me and providing me critical feedback. None of those who I consider my mentors and to whom I attribute significant contributions to my development and success as a leader were formally established as my mentors. Rather, they were all people who were highly accomplished in their own right and saw something special in me — perhaps it was initiative, intellect, tenacity, familiarity or work product…or something totally different. Either way, through informal conversations built around shared priorities, they shared insight gained through their experience to help accelerate my own trajectory.

To be clear, both coaching and being coached are difficult. I often think of the descriptor, “relentless”, to describe the consistently challenging nature of the discussions that most helped me excel. And while difficult to hear at times, the habitual feedback, advice and relentless coaching helped me fundamentally develop and/or change my leadership behaviors and form leadership habits required at the most senior executive levels.

Since I retired from St. Jude Medical and Abbott, the first question I get is typically “What are you going to do next — what company are you going to lead?” It is funny that most people only reflect on their professional journey when they leave a company; it has been a pleasure to use this transition to reflect on my tenure at St. Jude Medical and frankly across the various companies, industries, businesses and functions — the various roles I’ve had, the teams I’ve built and led, the organizational transformations I’ve architected and implemented. It was terrific to hear from those I’ve touched over my 16 year aggregate tenure and how our working together has influenced their careers and perspective.

Most eye opening for me from reflecting on this transition has been a few key facts:

  1. Most leaders are so busy running the business, they overlook coaching their talent and getting coaching for themselves

  2. Leaders who can inspire followers can achieve much more and have greater business impact through pure scale and reach

  3. Coaching is hard and a skill to develop. It hard both for the coach and the protege. But, it really is the secret sauce — leaders develop leaders. And gaining insight from leaders who have navigated the senior executive levels before you is invaluable in accelerating your career trajectory

So, M33 is about just that — it is an opportunity for me to “pay it forward” in honor of all of those who have invested in me and use my business experience coupled with a leadership data platform to help the leaders of today build an even better tomorrow.


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