Leadership Discovery Mentor Imparts Life and Leadership Lessons

The Spring 2020 Leadership Discovery class kicked off the program with a virtual mentor session with Christie Rainwater, Mayor of the City of Hanahan. Mayor Rainwater offered a wealth of information, through personal stories and professional examples, that we can apply to our own lives.

Mayor Rainwater was elected in November of 2018. Prior to that, she served on City Council – her first foray into public service. While serving as mayor, she also works full time as a Director with Pampered Chef. Her most valued role, however, is as a wife and mother of four. Mayor Rainwater is a busy woman, that much is clear. But from her presentation, it is also clear that she takes real joy in each of her roles and handles every decision and interaction with intention and care.

Hold your titles loosely. Our identity is not in what we do, it is in who we are.

Christie Rainwater, Mayor, City of Hanahan

Leadership Lessons

  • How you respond to challenging moments is what shapes you in the future. We can’t control others, but we can control our response. Never pretend to understand something you have never faced.
  • Volunteer through servant leadership. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to put yourself underneath people, no matter where you are in your career. Find something you love and know that it’s okay to start small.
  • Listen. Listen to understand versus listening to respond. Develop the ability to change your mind when presented with new information.
  • Mentorship. Who is your mentor? Who are you mentoring? The sign of a good leader is guiding the one following behind you to even greater places than you could achieve.
  • Focus on relationships. People before tasks. Spend time on cultivating your relationships.

Mayor Rainwater also explored the importance of having balance in your life and how to achieve it. In this day and age, we often live and operate in extremes. This does not create balance, but rather a constant back and forth. Rainwater recommended that one way to create balance in a polarized world is to look at the same situation through a filter. This can be as simple as assuming someone else’s perspective. This simple, yet powerful, strategy can help you make decisions and solve problems more easily.

“You will never become an amazing leader if you don’t allow yourself to fail,” Rainwater noted. In fact, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying new things – and trying new things is so important to developing yourself as a person and as a leader. Failing is okay, but there is a right way to do it; fail forward. Own your failure and use it to keep going, but don’t stagnate in it. Maybe most importantly of all, allow the same leeway to fail forward to the people on your team, the people you’re leading. Rainwater had some tips for how to successfully fail forward:

  • Avoid blame and excuses
  • Own it, apologize, make it right
  • Learn from it

Another important tip for achieving balance is to learn to ask for help – it doesn’t make you weak or incompetent, it makes you smart. This is especially important to remember when you are determining how to allot your time. Use your time wisely – there are a finite number of hours in the day.

Mayor Rainwater’s Most Valuable Life Lessons:

  • Sometimes a fresh start is just what you need; but remember that restarting is not the same as running away.
  • Always be a learner. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can’t learn from someone just because they are in a different stage of life than you are.
  • Second chances are a must. Sometimes things aren’t wrong, they’re just different. Embracing that mindset will make giving second chances easier.
  • Good leaders know their strengths and maximize them. Likewise, they know their weaknesses and either work on them or recruit around them.

Mayor Rainwater had so many wonderful pieces of advice, both for developing as a leader, and for developing as a person. Look for the positive, focus on relationships, prioritize growth, face challenges head on. Do it with excellence and always be humble, be thankful, be kind.

Thank you to Mayor Rainwater for taking the time to share her experience and advice with our group.


Leadership Discovery is an innovative and skills-based leadership program that allows emergent business and community leaders to learn from experienced regional leaders. Participants build strong peer relationships, community connections and valuable leadership understanding in this accelerated mentor-based program.

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