Sponsors Vs Mentors

How to find a good mentorI often am asked what is the difference between a Sponsor and a Mentor?

Mentors guide; Sponsors deliver!

Mentors observe and articulate what you may not be aware of in yourself or are able to verbalise. They can help you determine your strengths: what you do exceptionally well and what differentiates you i.e. help you identify what your personal brand is. They act as your confidential sounding board.

An experienced mentor will also have a diverse background and wisdom to ask challenging questions and help you learn to navigate the corporate ladder, and they understand the politics in organisations. Mentors can help you grasp the unwritten rules, how to manage you effectively and share experiences. They can also prepare you to identify and attract Sponsors.

Mentors help you define your direction and set goals. Sponsors help you achieve your goals and ambitions, opening up valuable networks and opportunities for you. Sponsors deliver: They make valuable introductions and speak on your behalf to key leaders within companies, government etc. They connect you to career opportunities and provide support. When it comes to opening doors, they usually support you throughout your career.

It is important to keep your Sponsors informed of your achievements and movements within your career. They are a valuable resource and therefore it is important to maintain an effective relationship with them.

Internal Sponsors are just as important as external Sponsors. Engaging the C-suite is a critical success factor. Visible and active support from a company’s most senior leader(s) – both women and men – often signals the difference between good intent and real outcomes.

Be strategic as you search for would-be Sponsors. The most effective Sponsors have powerful high-level contacts they can introduce you to. They can introduce opportunities such as projects and assignments that will advance your career, they have broad perspective and they will give you critical feedback.

Look in and beyond your immediate circle of Mentors and Leaders. Seek out someone with demonstrable power and influence to change and add value to your career.

Donny Walford

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