‘Paying it Forward’ in a Professional Context

I recently began a new chapter in my career, a wonderful opportunity in what I consider to be a streak of great fortune over the past several years of my professional life. In previous roles, I have functioned as a mentor and a part-time manager, but this new position affords me, for the first time, the opportunity to manage multiple employees on a full-time basis.

During the first few weeks in my new job, I have already begun to feel myself being pulled in different directions, as I try to get a feel for the company’s current state, get to know the employees I’ll be managing and formulate a vision for the marketing department.

As the demands on my time inevitably increase, I know I’ll be tempted to put my head down and go into “grind” mode, making sure to handle my responsibilities, while also doling out assignments to those I am managing. But I will resist that temptation, because I learned from managers that took the time to work with and teach me, explaining the “why” of the decisions they made, rather than simply handing down directives.

Of course, taking the time to teach and explain my choices to the employees I manage will benefit me in the long run, as it will ensure we are all aligned in our roles and will ensure they are able to successfully execute our long-term vision. But more than that, I feel that I owe it to both my former managers and my new colleagues to be a teacher and mentor, not just a “boss.”

Early in my career, I worked for some “bosses.” They had tasks they wanted completed in a specific manner and there wasn’t much room for discussion. These managers had responsibilities and pressure to deal with, and my point here is not to disparage them. But I do feel as if opportunities were missed, that I could have grown professionally with more guidance, which would have made me more valuable to that organization and helped me move forward more quickly in my career as well.

Later, I had managers and mentors who took the time to explain how to make strategic decisions and take a more macro approach to my job. They invested in me, even when it might have been easier just to make sure handled just their core job responsibilities. I learned and grew, and I felt valued—I truly believe I owe a huge portion of my current success to those managers.

So whether you are in a managerial role or hope to be one day, try to remember how valuable it was to have a direct superior who invested in your future (and if you have never had one, be sure to keep looking). Remember that he or she didn’t have to make that investment, but instead made an active choice. Then do your best to make that same choice, and pay it forward.

If you liked this, you may also like this blog from Eric: Want to be an Ally for Women? Try Listening…

Eric Lebowitz is the VP of Marketing at Critical Mention and co-founder of The Forward Marketer, a digital marketing firm and official HubSpot Agency partner. He loves golf and the New York Mets.