In today’s workplace, whether you are just jumping in, rising to the top or at the helm, there are key relationships that champion or consolidate our journey. These relationships are key to aid in navigating each maze with authority and humanity. In this article, we will assess each relationship. We will determine their benefits, how to cultivate them and most importantly how to grow them for mutual benefit. There are 4 types of relationships we will assess.
These relationships are:
Even though these relationships are mentioned loosely in every conversation, conference and other platforms, when they are used well, well understood and well guided, they can lead to the ‘make or break’ in life love success and business.
In this article, we are continuing the Relationship Race series and looking at the second relationship, the sponsor relationship, and its role in shaping businesses positively with regards to growth and consolidation.
According to BalanceCareers, “a sponsor is someone with power who knows you and your potential, who advocates for your success on the corporate ladder, and who helps remove obstacles to your progress. A sponsor is someone who is willing to champion your progress.”
A sponsor is therefore someone who has enough clout to make a difference in decisions others make about your progress. A sponsor believes in you and your skills and abilities enough to risk her or his own credibility for you. Sponsors have enough faith in your ultimate success to protect you so that you can take risks and make occasional mistakes and missteps without setting your career back.
According to the BalanceCareers.com, a sponsor is charged with the mandate to perform these actions on behalf of those they are sponsoring. Firstly, they hire you for a position, especially one where you can learn and advance even further, and would actively put your name forward when an opening is available that matches your skills and abilities.
Sponsors also actively consider and seek out openings, assignments, and opportunities where you can advance. They make calls to or have one-on-one meetings with decision-makers who have the authority to say “yes” to an opportunity or promotion for you. Sponsors speak up for your skills and abilities in meetings when your name comes up or when opportunities come up. They also tell you what you need to do and know to get chosen for the opening or opportunity and assist in connecting you with others who can help you make progress, and prepare them to see you favorably.
Finally, they also advocate for good initial pay in a new position, or a good pay raise or bonus within a current position. They have enough influence with the decision-makers to make this likely to happen and defend or protect you in times when you have taken risks and failed, reminding the decision-makers that risk is part of success—and they express faith in your ultimate success.
At first blush, it might look like the Sponsor and the Mentor are inextricably similar but there are some fundamental differences that make them mutually exclusive. A good sponsor is also a mentor, but a sponsor is a step above a mentor. Whilst a mentor is someone who helps you understand what you need to progress through the organization, to fulfill your potential and focuses on changes you need to make to progress, there are unique circumstances where you might definitely need to find a sponsor. A sponsor is an active advocate with the power to smooth the path for you, to get your name into the right conversations at the right level, to open doors by influencing decision-makers you might otherwise have no access to.
In an article in the New York Times, “Mentors Are Good. Sponsors Are Better”, and in her book, “Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor”, Sylvia Ann Hewlett details research showing that those with sponsors succeed more quickly, on average, than those without sponsors and even those with a mentor. So how can we develop a sponsor type relationship in our businesses as leaders and entrepreneurs.
Here are my thoughts on 4 strategies leaders and businesses can adopt for achieving success by adopting the sponsor relationship culture in the workplace.
Many organizations already have thriving mentorship programs. As leaders and entrepreneurs, we need to develop and incentivize current mentors to grow their mentorship relationshiop into a sponsor relationship. Since a sponsor already has all the qualities of a mentor, the shift will not be extremely significant but the positive implications will drive the organisation forward.
There is a lot to be gained from having an impressive pool of experts acting as sponsors to you and your employees. Most businesses fall under one sector or industry and as such might lack some insight and opportunities in other industries. By building a network of external sponsors across different sectors to help shore up the opportunities rife in other sectors, we as leaders and businesses can help leverage the impact of our team on a much wider scale.
Sponsor relationships should, from the get-go, have a clear-cut delineation between their role as sponsors and the danger of being taken as a mentor. Mentors supply advice and guidance; they do not give work assignments or instruct mentees on how to do their jobs. Sponsors elevate the team by exposing them to opportunities they will not likely be exposed to without their help. As always, after a sponsor and his or her trainee are paired up, they must encourage the relationship by staying in regular contact. Check-ins by email or phone are fine, but occasional in-person meetings are critical.
Companies have a lot to gain when their team have clear goals that help them in achieving the desired business goals. Employees who can envision a clear future with an organization and feel aided and encouraged in their professional endeavors. They are exposed to greater opportunities and are more likely to stay in an organisation for longer. Sponsors can do this by providing access to training and development opportunities and also by signing up their trainees to international philanthropic organizations like the Rotary Club amongst others.
Sponsoring in the workplace is a crucial add-on to any organizational culture. As leaders and entrepreneurs, adopting it and promoting it can help consolidate and leverage the quality of work, and open windows of opportunity for ourselves and our employees. Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group & Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.