In today’s multi-dimensional, interconnected world, success in business is harder than ever before. Not only do you have to be hardworking, smart and a little bit lucky, but you also need as much help and support as possible. In fact, some people say that there’s nothing more important than having support if you want to make it to the top. I propose that one really good way to do that in business is to have a “Sponsor”.
I know what you’re thinking: What exactly is a sponsor? And how does a sponsor differ from a mentor?
Mentors, are what most people tend to have. They are people that offer friendly advice. They offer career conversation when you need them and sometimes before you need them. Not only will the tell you about their own experiences but when possible, they will give you as many tips as they can.
On the other hand, a sponsor is someone who uses their own power and influence on their protégé’s behalf. Not only do they advocate for their performance but often times for their next promotion. Sponsors also help their protégé understand what they can do at a company, make connections to senior leaders; become more visible; and open up career opportunities. In short, sponsors pull you up to the next level.
On the other hand, not having a sponsor means that you don’t have people fighting for you when it counts. You might have people making decisions about your career who don’t know who you are or who have no real vested interest. And as a result, it can be harder to get on a key project, harder to get support if things don’t go as well as you hoped, and harder to learn how things work at the company.
But don’t just take it from me, take it from VPs I spoke with at Aon, SVP at Amex and another executive at Google, all of whom had the same opinion.
In short, if you don’t have a sponsor yet, think about how you might be able to find one.