Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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We Mean Business The Shining Protégé I f you have C-suite aspirations, sponsorship is crucial. But how do you fnd the right sponsor? And what steps can you take to develop that relationship? Expert Sylvia Ann Hewlett offers the following advice. THINKSTOCKPHOTOS.COM Find your Match Look about two levels up in your organization to fnd a sponsor. While 42 percent of women prefer a sponsor who values diversity, is supercollaborative, and is a woman, keep in mind that very few people in top positions meet all of those requirements. Instead, focus on connecting with someone who has infuence in your organization and whom you respect. much from Dufy, who was then acting primarily as a mentor. "What he did for me, which many partners I had worked for over the years had not, was take me out to meet clients," she says. "He also taught me that you don't always have to be liked, but you have to be respected. And I saw how patient he was in letting a process unfold. He understood the organization's capacity to accept change, and he pushed just far enough. I have a lot of passion and can get ahead of myself, so he taught me to take a deep breath." di ve rs i tywoman. com Be an Ambassador Sponsorship is a two-way street. Always speak highly of your sponsor to others. Deliver Like Crazy Always come through on projects. Find out what your sponsor most urgently needs to get done over the next month and do it for him or her. Reveal Your Special Strengths Figure out what special talents you have in your back pocket that make you a unique contributor. If you see a gap in your organization—whether the team is low on technology skills or knowledge of the Asian market—and you can fll it, jump in. But when Dufy fought for her promotion, he blasted beyond mere mentorship. He was acting as her sponsor, and research shows that sponsorship is key to getting ahead. "A sponsor is a much more profound advocate than a mentor," says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founding president and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation and author of the book Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: Te New Way to Fast-Track Your Career, from Harvard Business Review Press. "Tey give advice and guidance and they introduce you to people, so there is > some overlap, but there are these heavylifting pieces that are special to sponsorship. Sponsors are willing to take a bet on you and to reach out and advocate for that next stretch opportunity or that next promotion. Tat means that they need to be more senior than you are and have a line of sight on your work." A sponsor is also in your corner when you want to take risks. "Quite frankly, in our very competitive world, it's impossible to do anything outstanding without taking a few risks," Hewlett says. "It's often thought that women are risk-averse. We fnd that's not true. Tey're merely not suicidal. And without a sponsor—a senior person supporting you, giving you a second chance if you fall fat on your face—you probably will not take any risks. And therefore, in some ways you will fail to shine." Also, while mentoring relationships tend to be passive, with the mentee simply taking notes and saying thank you, sponsorships are reciprocal. "Te protégé has to invest very proactively in the relationship," Hewlett says. "Because there's skin in the game—there's real risk in this relationship—this is something that you have to earn. You have to win it." Breaking into the Clubhouse Sponsorship is nothing new. "Tis is how power is transferred, and it's been happening in the old boys' club for decades," Hewlett says. To a great degree, sponsorship continues to operate primarily within that same club. And that isn't always intentional. Even in 2013, corporate senior leadership is overwhelming white and male, and those white men—like all of us—tend to forge relationships with employees with whom they have a natural connection. "For people who are grooming the next generation of leaders, the default position is that you pick someone like you," Hewlett says. "Tat is a person who is easy to rely on because you trip over them at the golf club every Saturday, or you went to the same school, or you play squash together." Fa ll 2 0 1 3 DI V E RSI T Y W O MAN 31

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