What is the difference is between a sponsor and a mentor?
Mentors act as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, offering advice as needed and support and guidance as requested; they expect very little in return.
Sponsors, in contrast, are much more invested in their protégés, offering guidance and critical feedback because they believe in them.
Research from the Center for Work-Life Policy, a New York-based think tank, quantifies the power of the sponsor effect. Sponsorship provides a statistical benefit of up to 30 percent when it comes to stretch assignments, promotions, and pay raises—a boost that mentoring alone can never hope to match.
Many junior women entering the corporate workforce still underestimate the crucial push sponsorship can contribute to a high-potential but unrecognised employee. The Center for Work-Life Policy’s research also shows that 77 percent of junior women believe hard work and long hours, not connections, contribute the most to their advancement. There’s an overwhelming sense by these junior women that getting ahead by any other means is unscrupulous.
Sponsorship within an organisation starts with those senior leaders who are prepared to become sponsors to support and promote top talent (sponsorees). For the sponsorees, similar to selling, they need to provide a point of view and insights that are valuable to a sponsor. Delivery of insights and consistent achievements to an agreed plan is very important to building trust and rapport between the sponsor and the sponsoree.
As a sponsor your role is to ensure you help your sponsoree navigate the organisation, communicating who the detractors are and assisting your sponsoree in establishing the rapport and trust needed to progress relationships and advance their career.
Inexperienced and less self-aware leaders who don’t engage in sponsoring judge others when what the individual needs is coaching. Worse still, the non-sponsoring leaders speak to other leaders rather than engaging sponsorees, which would give a sponsoree the opportunity to learn.
Women often lack the confidence to speak up and challenge the way business is operating or its strategic direction, and because of this they would particularly benefit from a sponsor relationship.
Angela will be presenting on the role of sponsors at the Macquarie University Women, Management and Work Conference, held in Sydney on 12 November 2014.
About Angela Lovegrove
As the Regional General Manager for Telstra, Angela is responsible for the transformation of Telstra from a carrier to an ICT Solution business. Before joining Telstra, Angela was the Customer Success Director if high growth cloud solutions business Salesforce, responsible for Australia and New Zealand.