Having the right sponsor can make a dramatic impact on your career advancement. It’s such a powerful relationship that I have included it in the political toolkit in my book, The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead. In fact, I call it the “Get Out of Jail Free Card”. Because just as this card gets you out of tough situations and propels you forward in Monopoly, a sponsor protects you and promotes you to win in the workplace. It’s the fast track; the fastest, most powerful way to get ahead.
According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, sponsorship provides a statistical benefit of up to 30 percent for high profile assignments, promotions, and pay raises, yet very few women have sponsors. In fact, men are 46 percent more likely than women to have a sponsor. Women tend to be over mentored and under sponsored and as a result, they miss out on the positive impact of having a sponsor. The report states that there is a direct relationship between a lack of sponsorship opportunities and the absence of women in leadership positions.
I interviewed many women for my book and what is very clear from these interviews as well as from the work I do with my clients that those women who have sponsors reach leadership positions much faster than those who don’t. It does, however, take focus, intention, and political savvy to get the right sponsor. In my coaching work, I help women identify and secure sponsors to help them get the promotions they deserve.
How do you find the right sponsor?
First of all, you need a sponsor who has the power to push you through the system. Women have a tendency to seek out role models or someone they admire rather than someone with the power to take action on their behalf. Identify someone at the senior leadership level who has respect in the organization and has the clout to make things happen for you.
There are basically two ways to get a sponsor: through a formal sponsorship program in your company or by your individual efforts. Either way, you need to make yourself sponsor ready to earn a sponsor.
How do you make yourself sponsor ready?