For the month of September, we are challenging the Works for Women networks to actively seek mentorship and sponsorship from either existing relationships, or build new ones. We know that the landscape is changing and while mentorship is important, the identification of a sponsor for your continued success is paramount. Relationships are an important aspect of any work culture. Cultivating a strong network and ensuring you have advocates are critical steps for advancement and development—especially for women, who are often left out of more informal activities. Nearly two-thirds of men say that the senior leaders who have helped them advance were mostly men, compared to just over one-third of women.
Catalyst research has found that while mentoring is essential to leadership development, it is not enough, on its own, to help women advance. Their research points to a more influential professional relationship: sponsorship. Mentorship and sponsorship are not equal. The power of sponsorship, and the reason it is critical to career advancement, is that a sponsor uses strong influence to help his or her protégé access highly visible assignments and promotions. Sponsors take active risk to ensure their protégés’ success. Over time mentors can develop into sponsors who use their status and influence to create opportunities and make connections for you. Before your mentor will sponsor you, they need to trust that you are reliable and a bet worth making. To build trust, always follow through on what you say you’re going to do and always do your very best work. When you’re consistent over time, you build valuable trust with your mentor – and your coworkers. Mentorship relationships start with a mutual connection – and mentors often select protégés based on their performance and potential.
We can mentor other women at any stage in our careers, and it pays off when we do. Women who are mentored by women feel more supported and re often more satisfied with their career. If you’re farther along in your career, pay it forward by investing in a woman just starting out. And if you are early in your career, find a woman who’s coming up behind you or a student who’s interested in your field. Don’t underestimate the value of your input – you may have just been through what she’s experiencing. Mentoring is a two-way street, and value can be found by both individuals.
To join the challenge, simply:
Taking a page from #GoSponsorHer, as you start to build your mentor/mentee, or sponsor/sponsoree relationship. Considerations for organizations also looking to develop their own internal programs include:
For Mentors and Sponsors:
For Mentees and Sponsorees:
Upcoming Community Events (in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
You can also join Works for Women on Wednesday, September 27 at The Glass Cliff…Women, Leadership, Life and Flow. This event is geared towards organizations and individuals who understand the importance of having strong women leaders in our community and will continue the conversation that is being held in corporate boardrooms, throughout non-profit organizations, in political arenas and over coffee with coaches and mentors. To find more information, check out: http://globalwomanofvision.com/.
We also encourage you to the Women’s Leadership Roadblocks webinar on September 19, where you will learn how to overcome common roadblocks for women in leadership, gain empowerment and confidence in your current role, build confidence in leading strategy, vision and risk, and build an executive personal brand.
In closing, thank you again for helping to spark dialogue, build awareness, and inspire action. We are reminded that change does not happen overnight, but by uniting our community we can take direct action to impact change. On behalf of Works for Women, thank you for helping us drive change in Alberta.