Are You Overmentored and Undersponsored?

Like this on Facebook

A few years ago, I read a compelling article in Harvard Business Review that was a game changer for me, as it opened my eyes to the value of sponsorship. The article was simply titled, “Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women,” and that alone ought to be enough to grab your attention.

Here’s the part that stuck in my mind:

“There is a special kind of relationship—called sponsorship—in which the mentor goes beyond giving feedback and advice and uses his or her influence with senior executives to advocate for the mentee,” wrote the authors, Herminia Ibarra, Nancy M. Carter, and Christine Silva. “Our interviews and surveys alike suggest that high-potential women are overmentored and undersponsored relative to their male peers—and that they are not advancing in their organizations.”

Sponsors are influential leaders who can open the door to new career opportunities, like promotions and coveted assignments. Mentors guide you as you navigate everyday hurdles in the workplace. While mentors help you skill up, sponsors help you move up.

So if you don’t currently have a sponsor, consider:
• Are you a high-potential woman who is overmentored and undersponsored?
• Are you less likely than your male peers to have a sponsor?
• If so, what impact would it have on your career if you enlisted the support of one or more influential sponsors?

When it comes to the impact of sponsorship, and the boost in momentum that a sponsor can add to your career, here are some facts worth knowing:

1) There’s a sponsorship gender gap.

Women are less likely than male peers to benefit from sponsorship, according to The Sponsor Effect by Sylvia Ann Hewlett with Kerrie Peraino, Laura Sherbin, and Karen Sumberg who discovered that only 13% of women and 19% of men working full-time for large companies have a sponsor. So while the gap may be smaller than you’d have guessed, it’s still significant because men advance disproportionately, ultimately outnumbering women nearly two to one in top leadership positions.

2) Sponsors empower you to make bold moves.

The authors of “The Sponsor Effect” also found that people who have the backing of a powerful sponsor are at least 22% more likely to summon the courage to ask for stretch assignments and raises. Having a sponsor is like having a career safety net, and that makes it easier to be bolder, take risks, and ask for what’s important to you. Whether it’s a pay raise, a promotion, or a plum assignment, people who ask for what they want are much more likely to get it.

3) Sponsors enhance your career satisfaction.

How happy are you, right now, with the pace of your career growth? According to the authors of “The Sponsorship Effect”, women (and men) feel more satisfied with their career advancement when they have sponsors. If you feel like your career has plateaued or that you’re being overlooked for opportunities, a sponsor can help.

4) Sponsors transfer power to their protégés.

When reporting on sponsorship research conducted by The Center for Talent Innovation, Jenna Goudreau wrote for Business Insider, “Four U.S.-based and global studies clearly show that sponsorship—not mentorship—is how power is transferred in the workplace.” If women are less likely to be sponsored than their male colleagues, then it’s no surprise that it’s more difficult for women to gain influence. Whether your goal is to launch a new product, turn around a struggling team or ascend to the C-suite, having an influential ally in your corner makes it easier.

5) You’re underestimating the benefits of sponsorship.

Here’s one final nugget of information from the research referenced in “The Sponsor Effect”: “We found that the majority of ambitious women underestimate the pivotal role sponsorship plays in their advancement—not just within their current firm, but throughout their career and across their industry.” Are you an ambitious woman? Then it’s likely that you too are underestimating the benefits sponsorship can confer on your career.

How to get a sponsor

“Okay,” I hear you thinking. “How do I get a sponsor?”

Here’s my post about the six steps you can take, now, to attract the attention of sponsors.

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Recommended

"No" is a Complete Sentence: A Leadership Lesson from Peggy Olson

I’ll miss Peggy Olson. For me, Mad Men was all about Peggy’s remarkable career ascent from her first day in her new job as Don ...

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Rakhi Voria

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her ...

Leaderly Quote: It's hard to see the world in a new way...

"It's hard to see the world in a new way when you're doing things the same old way." — Dorie Clark....

Ready to lead?

We'll show you how!
Get email updates from Be Leaderly.

Our mission is to provide the career strategies that help you lead, climb and thrive as a rising woman of influence.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

How to Manage Former Peers

Let’s talk about a potentially awkward situation. You get a new role and ...

Public speaking tips for introverts. (Like me.)
Public speaking tips for introverts. (Like me.)

It was just an ordinary Tuesday. I woke up, made a strong pot of coffee,

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Roderick Wilson
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Roderick Wilson

This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Roderick Wilson, Senior Vice President Market

Leaderly Quote: Strip away the drama from your leadership style…
Leaderly Quote: Strip away the drama from your leadership style…

Need to have a “tough love” conversation with someone at work? Stay calm, stick to

The Number One Way to Make a Difficult Conversation Easier
The Number One Way to Make a Difficult Conversation Easier

Need to have a difficult conversation with an employee, peer, or supervisor at work? Whether

Leaderly Quote: The best way to become who you’re destined to be…
Leaderly Quote: The best way to become who you’re destined to be…

“The best way to become who you’re destined to be is to accept who you

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here they are! The most-viewed Be Leaderly articles for the past month. 1. 25 Questions

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Christina Lewis
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Christina Lewis

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing

Six Ways to Attract and Hire Women in Male-Dominated Industries
Six Ways to Attract and Hire Women in Male-Dominated Industries

Current news stories make it sound like it’s impossible to attract women to high-tech jobs.

Leaderly Quote: There’s something inside you that is stronger…
Leaderly Quote: There’s something inside you that is stronger…

“It’s impossible to please everybody,” writes Alexandra Franzen in her article, You’re Going to be

You Can Make Excuses or You Can Make Progress
You Can Make Excuses or You Can Make Progress

The other day, I hopped in a cab. The driver and I started chatting, as

3 Rules for Rule-Breakers
3 Rules for Rule-Breakers

“You can’t leave your career when you’re at your height—it will derail you.” That was

Leaderly Quote: Everyone needs a few influential advocates.
Leaderly Quote: Everyone needs a few influential advocates.

Everyone needs a few influential advocates. It’s not an exaggeration to say that with one

Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here’s what other emerging leaders have been reading at BeLeaderly.com this month. Do you like

4 Corporate Culture Questions to Ask in a Job Interview
4 Corporate Culture Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

You’ve made it to the final round job interview, and are starting to feel hopeful.

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address.
Copyright 2017, Be Leaderly