Contributing in any way to the success of others in this industry has, without question, been the single greatest source of joy and fulfillment in my entire career.”
Those words, from 2012 Industry Mentor winner Jill Harrington, concisely sum up her fierce commitment to mentoring industry colleagues.
Indeed, Jill’s passion for mentoring led her to launch, in 2002, potential2performance and its subsidiary, salesSHIFT, focusing specifically on the professional development of others.
But Jill’s passion for mentoring began many years ago and has taken different forms.
It started with mentoring colleagues when she was new to the industry and an account executive with Partners in Performance incentive house. Colleagues would seek Jill out for advice and she’d sit with them, sharing what she had learned and what had shaped her success.
As an industry leader, she went against the grain, hiring people for raw talent and hunger to succeed, over experience. She then committed time and energy to provide the support they needed to be successful.
Two examples: After interviewing a junior industry member, Jill was so impressed, she hired her over more experienced applicants. Although she wasn’t her direct manager, Jill made herself available to support and guide her because she saw her determination to succeed. After leaving the company, Jill continued to counsel her, and she has since grown to be an industry leader.
Another time, some years ago, Jill, against the advice of her then-president and leadership team, chose to advance the career of a junior member of her team to a director’s position. While others felt she wasn’t up to the job, Jill knew she was determined to assume a bigger role and was confident she was ready for it. Jill provided the guidance, feedback and encouragement she needed to gain the confidence and the respect of colleagues in her new role. She, too, went on to carve out a leadership career in this industry.
Jill has also helped seasoned professionals find the right next step for their career. For example, two of her colleagues had lost confidence in their existing role and shared their predicament with her. She introduced both to new positions and made herself available as a sounding board and source of support as they began their new roles. Jill’s support helped them chart new paths and both have been respected industry leaders (one owning a company) for many years.
She notes, however, that mentoring requires commitment from the person being mentored. “Everyone I have mentored has come with the raw talent and, most importantly, a willingness to do what it takes. I’ve simply been the catalyst for their own greatness.”
Q: Value. What do you bring to the table?
A: My personal value comes from how, and what, I communicate. Through my training, speaking and writing, I enable people (sales and service professionals) to think in ways relevant to today’s ambiguous business environment. Most importantly, I provide them the critical skills, confidence and motivation to act on this new understanding, so they achieve faster business growth and ongoing success, regardless of market conditions.
Q: The Future. Are you ready for what’s next?
A: In my mind, the path to assuring your readiness for the future is through ongoing learning. And not just learning from traditional sources. Step out of your own industry, listen to speakers, read books and articles that you may not agree with but that will, at the very least, broaden your thinking and open your mind to possibilities you wouldn’t otherwise imagine.
The Industry Mentor Award recognizes an individual planner or supplier who, through their expertise, professional influence or academic position, has provided others with the opportunity, inspiration or ability to pursue excellence.