Mentorship & Leadership — 1 Style, 2 Goals — in Discussion with Karen Walker Johnson
Karen Walker Johnson was recently featured in a podcast Sisters Overcoming and Rising (S.O.A.R) with Dr. Stephanie Brown, where the two discussed the importance of mentorship and how it makes a difference. Here are some interesting excerpts of Karen’s views on mentorship and leadership.
Karen, how do your leadership skills affect your mentorship style?
“When I join a company as a board member or in a position of leadership, my goal is to drive peak performance which at times, requires the turnaround of something which may not be performing well. When I agree to mentor someone, my goal is to be able to guide them toward their goals. In both situations, I utilize transferable skills I have acquired over the years — to assess, listen, and observe. The style for both processes is the same, and has proven to be effective.
In fact, when I am in a position of leadership in a corporation, it is mentorship of sorts. I am driving toward favorable business outcomes and creating a succession plan for all those on my team. Whether they continue to grow with me or move in another direction — they will take a piece of “my mentorship” with them. It’s almost like a ripple effect.
I think there is a lot of similarity between what I do for companies and what I do for my mentees — helping them grow, evolve, and reach their full potential.”
You have had an amazing career and have risen to the heights of leadership. How has mentoring helped you?
“I strongly believe that mentorship creates a two-way learning environment. Both the mentor and the mentee have much to gain from such a relationship. I have been fortunate enough to be mentored by some truly amazing people and have had the opportunity to pass on what they taught me to my mentees as well. One piece of advice which has shaped my career has been about decision making. One of my early mentors told me — ‘In life, you will be required to make many important decisions. You may not always make the right decision, but never fear to make one.’ This helped me become decisive, a quality that is often overlooked. I have assimilated this advice and I pass it on to my mentees.
A mentor is able to create a safe space and support professional and personal growth. This sort of relationship has an impact throughout the different stages of one’s life.”
You can listen to the entire podcast here.