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What Beats Mentoring? Advocacy

A conversation between two AT&T leaders on the benefits of advocating for another. 

Two AT&T leaders, Brooks McCorcle and Jenifer Robertson, recently connected to discuss their relationship and how they both benefited from each other’s support and encouragement. Here’s what they had to say about being each other’s advocate:

BrooksHey, Jen! Great to catch up live. You have been on my mind recently as I have been spending quite a bit of time with young leaders at AT&T and in the community. I’ve been thinking about you and how our relationship evolved over time from a mentorship to one of advocacy. What are your thoughts on that?

JeniferYou know, Brooks, I’ve been speaking in similar settings recently and have reflected on that very topic. For me, the biggest takeaway is that we are personally invested in each other for the long-term. Mentoring is more one-sided with focus on a specific challenge or project. Does that ring true for you too?

Brooks: I agree. I have a lot of people that I mentor – provide advice and counsel for – but advocacy is much deeper. It means there’s true ownership and commitment between the two people in the relationship. When I was tapped to launch AT&T’s first market for U-verse and needed to get up to speed quickly, I called Lea Ann Champion, and she recommended you. We immediately complemented each other at a time when there was a lot on the line for both of us and for our company. The trust and credibility that grew out of those early days, followed by the successful launch, was the glue that bound us together. I knew early on that you would be someone I would go to bat for always.   

Jenifer:  Thanks, that means a lot. Those early days had a real impact on who I am as a leader. In fact, I keep our U-verse launch mementos where I can see them every day – proof of what’s possible when we combine forces. We ran a half marathon together, presented the launch plan in front of a theater full of people and launched a product that is now nearly a $12 billion revenue stream! WOW! I also have all of your personal notes of encouragement and congrats to read when I need some positive reinforcement.

Brooks: Yep – hand-written notes – nothing means more to people! I invested a lot in you, and got a lot in return. We’ve shared some pivotal moments together.

Jenifer: That’s so true! One of my favorite memories is when you received news of a promotion. We shared that success, pre-announcement … an authentic example of happiness and pride for both of us. It was really your win, but I felt ownership and success there, too. That was right around the time you went to bat for me on a promotion of my own.

Brooks:  Well, you deserved it. It was a proud moment, sister! Advocacy boils down to this for me: It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, based on shared experiences. It requires that you marry your brand with someone else’s. As our world becomes more complex and collaboration becomes a key element to success, establishing the right relationships early is critical.

Jenifer:  When you’ve had someone be an advocate for you, you learn to be one for other people. In a way, I owe it to you to pay it forward… And I find it’s one of the most rewarding things I do. I continue to invest in new mentoring relationships as well. Well, Brooks, I have to run. It’s been great catching up.

Brooks:  Same here. Hey, before you go … can I get your advice on something? …

Before they parted, Brooks and Jenifer jotted down these five pieces of advice on advocacy:

  1.      Go to school on those you admire … do your research … and seek them out
  2.      Establish close relationships on tough assignments
  3.      Perform well … coach honestly
  4.      Recognize that “advocacy” takes time and personal investment
  5.      Advocate for people you would want to work for someday … chances are, you will!

Photo by Play Among Friends / Flickr.

About the guest bloggers: 

Brooks McCorcle photoBrooks McCorcle is a 23-year veteran with AT&T.  As President, Emerging Business Markets, she is creating and leading new growth businesses for AT&T.  She’s a wife, mom, community leader, and a sometimes gardener, art collector and fly-fisher.

 

Jenifer Robertson photoJenifer Robertson is approaching 13 years with AT&T. She is Vice President and General Manager, AT&T-Rocky Mountain Region, where she leads wireless retail sales and operations for the market. She’s a wife, mom, school volunteer and lover of sports, reading and travel.