This Leadership Style Helped Me Advance to a Director Role — Here’s How I’m Paying It Back

Photo Courtesy of ON Semiconductor.

Photo Courtesy of ON Semiconductor.

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July 16, 2024 at 7:4PM UTC

Mentorship is a prominent aspect of career advancement, in part because it equips mentees with the knowledge they need to excel in a particular role or field. To guide mentees along the path of least resistance, many mentors take a hands-on approach when sharing the tips and tricks they’ve learned over time.

Some people, however, learn better through an opposite approach: laissez-faire leadership. Melly Tillinghast is one of them. As the Director of Procurement at ON Semiconductor, she says this mentorship approach “really complements my working style by allowing me to solve problems creatively and operate efficiently.”

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It’s a style of mentorship that she’s taken to using with her own employees today. She admits it did take her time, though, to “learn that I should not jump in to help my team whenever they found themselves in a difficult situation.” Her end goal? To push employees to find creative, new solutions that work for them.

Recently, she shared with Fairygodboss how ON Semiconductor’s efforts support her leadership style, the role models who’ve helped shape her mentorship approach, and her No. 1 piece of advice for finding the right mentor. 

How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?

I’ve been in my current role for a little under a year now. Prior to this position, I was the senior manager responsible for the corporate services procurement team. I’ve held various procurement functions for the last 15 years. 

What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?

Review my calendar.

What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job or company?

ON Semiconductor has recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for four years in a row — and I can attest to this fact. 

What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should?

We have a culture of learning at ON Semiconductor. People are encouraged to take calculated risks and learn from the mistakes they make.

What’s something you’re especially good at work?

I’ve gotten good at exhibiting tenacity and confidence when dealing with adversity. 

What about outside of work?

I like to take every opportunity possible to travel with my family.

What are you trying to improve on?

I’m working on continuing to learn and grow my business, financial and strategic acumen.

What’s your favorite mistake?

As a leader, it took me time to learn that I should not jump in to help my team whenever they found themselves in a difficult situation or unable to solve a problem.

What do you love most about your job or your company?

It’s fast paced, challenging and collaborative.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?

I’m currently reading “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.”

What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?

Interview your potential manager as much as they interview you. It’s important to know their working style, and most importantly, if you think they can be a good sponsor in your new career.  

Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?

Certainly, my dad. He taught me the definition of self-starter and entrepreneurship. He started his business by going door-to-door and slowly worked his way up to owning multiple portfolio of businesses.

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received? 

Networking! It’s not what you know, but who you know.

What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?

I’ve been very fortunate to have great managers and mentors throughout my career. The quality they all possess is laissez-faire leadership, which really complements my working style by allowing me to solve problems creatively and operate efficiently.


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