“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
– Sir Isaac Newton
I am remarkably fortunate to have a wonderful career as an otolaryngologist, as the dean of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and as the president of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. I truly believe that none of this would have been possible without mentors who give guidance, sponsors who deliver opportunity, role models who provide an example and coaches who empower us to be our best selves.
Strong mentorship enables us to grow and learn, and to create and accomplish our goals. A mentor must be available, listen actively, give honest and objective feedback, and motivate and challenge the mentee to be their best self. In today's complex world, having a mentor can mean the difference between success and failure.
The mentor also benefits from the relationship. It can provide a renewed sense of meaning and purpose when one has the opportunity to make a positive difference in a colleague’s life and career. The mentor has the opportunity build a collaborative partnership with a talented colleague. And, perhaps most of all, a mentor derives great satisfaction by contributing to a legacy of developing the next generation of colleagues.
Sponsors are those individuals in your life who put your name forward for important roles and responsibilities. They believe in you and are confident in your ability to succeed. We all need these people in our lives and careers. Networking at local, national and international meetings and conferences is a great way to find potential sponsors.
As the mother of a former collegiate gymnast who subsequently worked as a volunteer coach of her college gymnastics team, I gained a fabulous appreciation of the value of coaches. I always work with an executive coach when I take on new leadership roles. Coaches are really special people, who have a unique way of helping us gain insight into our strengths and our weaknesses, while instilling confidence. A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.
Finally, role models are those people whom you deeply respect and aspire to emulate. One of my career role models was the late Charles J. Krause, MD, the former chair of Otolaryngology at the University of Michigan. Ever the calm and thoughtful visionary, Chuck was a gifted surgeon and mentor. I truly looked up to him.
As you can see, mentorship, sponsorship, coaching and role modeling shape careers in countless ways. If you currently serve in one of these roles, I am extremely proud and grateful. If you are looking for someone to serve in one of these roles for you, reach out to a trusted colleague for recommendations. I am very confident that you will find just the right person to guide you and help you grow at Ohio State.
After all, we are surrounded by giants here. Whose shoulders will you stand on?
Carol Bradford, MD, MS
Dean, College of Medicine
Leslie H. and Abigail S. Wexner Dean’s Chair in Medicine
Vice President for Health Sciences, Wexner Medical Center