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5 Reasons You Need a Sponsor
So, You Want to Be Promoted? Here are 5 Reasons Why You Need a Sponsor.
As a leadership coach, I speak with clients all the time who want to get noticed and promoted at work. They are usually of the view that they work really hard and their hard work alone should gain them visibility and open up opportunities for career advancement and promotions in their organizations.
They have mentors, they invest in self-development and naturally their expectation is that they will be promoted relatively quickly. This doesn’t always happen and sometimes it causes bitterness and dissension in the workplace.
A mentor is simply an experienced and trusted adviser: someone who has gone before you and done what you aspire to do. Mentors use their expertise as a guide to help you navigate your own path. They are a listening ear, encouragement, support, resource, and guide. I believe everyone should have at least one mentor.
Mentorship while important, is not enough to ensure your success. The missing component for most persons seeking promotion is sponsorship. Sponsors are people with political capital in organizations who will actively advocate for you and put your name forward in spaces you do not yet have access to. Sponsors ensure that you are given opportunities for high-stake projects that get you noticed and promoted. I highly recommend finding mentors who also possess the political capital within your organization to act as your sponsor.
If you want visibility and promotion, you definitely need a sponsor within your organization and here is why:
- A sponsor has a seat at the decision making table. This is where dialogue takes place regarding succession planning, high stakes projects and new roles within organizations. You want to be sure that you have someone at that table to represent your interest.
- Sponsors have strong influence and the power of persuasion among his or her colleagues. You want someone making a case for you who can convince others that you are the top choice.
- Your sponsor is familiar with your work and can vouch for you. This means they know what you’re capable of and can speak convincingly and knowledgeably about what you have produced in the past and how you will be an asset to the organization in a particular role.
- A sponsor will carry your interest and call your name in spaces that you do not have access to. This will create visibility for you among members of the executive team. The more your sponsor calls your name in the room, the more others around the table notice you and what you do on a daily basis.
- Sponsors use their social and political capital to fight for opportunities on your behalf. Because sponsors have firsthand knowledge of upcoming projects, they are positioned to recommend you even before discussions surrounding who will lead these high stake tasks. Sponsors are prepared to use their influence with peers to canvas and garner support on your behalf so that you are selected for opportunities.
If you doubt that sponsorship is the missing link, just speak with other persons in your organization who are ahead of you and you will learn that building relationships and influence with leaders in your organization is just as important as the quality of the work you produce.
Just this week, I had a conversation with a manager who completed a master’s degree a few months ago. Her expectation was that she would automatically be promoted or receive an increase in salary because of her educational achievement. When it didn’t happen, she contacted me to discuss how she should address it. I then had to inform her that a degree doesn’t guarantee promotion and that the conversation regarding her pursuing the degree in hopes of promotion should have been discussed beforehand. She may have discovered that the missing key wasn’t a master’s degree.
I share my own experience with sponsorship in my bestselling book Get Up & LEAD. Thierry Grandsire has been my leader, mentor, and sponsor for more than 12 years. In the book, I shared, “When I decided to pursue a master’s certification in human resource management, Thierry supported my decision and created a role for me to transition to human resources in the organization. This is more than mentorship; this is sponsorship.”
Before you invest in another degree, consider finding a sponsor and developing a relationship where you take on projects and prove your capability so that you have an ally in the room calling your name and using their influence to ensure you’re given opportunities to advance.
About the Author
Name: Sheba Wilson
Professional Title: Bestselling Author, Inspirational Speaker & Executive Leadership Coach
Bio: Sheba Wilson is the Bestselling Author of the book, Get Up & LEAD – Live Everyday Above Defeat. She is also the CEO of Sheba Wilson Consultancy LLC and Sheba Wilson Training Ltd, providing human resources solutions, consultancy, leadership development, executive coaching, and corporate training services. She is also the founder of She LEAD HR Solutions, providing a streamlined and automated application tracking software for recruitment and onboarding employees.
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