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Mentoring Through The Leadership Challenge

By Susannah Winslow posted 08-24-2021 12:26 PM

Mentor: @Susannah Winslow
Austin PBS
Vice President, Communications & Development
Susannah Winslow Mentee: @Rachelle Anderson
Director of Development
Rachelle Anderson

I had the honor and privilege to #mentor Rachelle Anderson, Director of Development at #WUCF at the time. Upon meeting Rachelle, hearing her goals and understanding her desire to be a leader for her new team, I immediately began reflecting on my own path to leadership at my station. My personal journey would not have been possible without the strong leadership and support I found above me every step in my career. Good leaders enable and encourage others to be good leaders, and my manager was key in affording me the opportunity to grow in this area. What I learned from her, I wanted to share with Rachelle to help grow her confidence as a leader in public media.

The Leadership Challenge In all honesty, looking at Rachelle’s path and my own was kind of like looking in a mirror. Her challenges were my challenges 5 years ago. And since I’m not an official leadership expert, I started thinking about pivotal moments in my journey. One of those came in the opportunity to attend a workshop based on the book The Leadership Challenge. In two days, I learned more about leadership than I could have ever imagined. So Rachelle and I collectively decided to spend our mentorship working through the book together, learning the principles and traits of good leadership. For me as the mentor, using the Leadership Challenge helped provide a framework for our discussions. It also provided structure and accountability for us to reach her leadership goals. 

While our mentorship ended a little sooner than expected, Rachelle accomplished some amazing things in the time we worked together. She reorganized her department and grew it from 3 full time employees to 6. She added more than 6,000 new members to her station’s donor file, created a major giving affinity group, exceeded all financial goals related to their on-air drives and left with expected revenue growth of $1 million for WUCF’s next fiscal year.

The nine months Rachelle and I spent together prove that leadership is truly a journey and not a destination. And while I may have been the mentor, Rachelle helped me grow in my leadership skills too. Leadership is a skill that anyone can learn if they put in the effort. And while good leaders exemplify certain qualities, leaders can come in all different shapes, sizes and styles. So I’m proud to say that I was able to champion Rachelle the person and the leader; to encourage her, support her and inspire her to know she has what it takes to carve her own successful leadership path.