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

Jo is Founding Editor of Be Leaderly, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., and creator of the Women’s Leadership Coaching® system, a roadmap for women who want to break into leadership. She has traveled in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and workshops, and counts being the only Aussie women’s leadership coach in Iowa among her unique “koalafications.” Learn more about Jo’s services at womensleadershipcoaching.com and follow @jo_miller on Twitter.

Recommended

Are You Climbing a Ladder – Or a Lattice? The Surprising Answers from Three Women Leaders

When it comes to moving forward in your career, there are two divergent paths: the ladder and the lattice. You’re already familiar with the traditional ...

The Rules of the Game: Pay Attention to Office Politics If You Want to Win the Corner Office

Have you ever wondered if playing the game of office politics is necessary to be successful? Lois Frankel sure has. She’s the author of Nice ...

Leaderly Quote: Mentors can help you skill up, but sponsors help you move up.

What's the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? Mentors can help you skill up, but sponsors help you move up! In their 2010 article ...

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. ...

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 ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

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

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 ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

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

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

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

How to Manage Former Peers

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

Ask an Exec – 4 Steps for Establishing Credibility and Influence

For many women leaders, their biggest question about being a better leader has ...

You Don’t Have to be an Expert to Share Your Expertise
You Don’t Have to be an Expert to Share Your Expertise

Feeling that you’re not “senior enough” to give a presentation at an event? Well, chances

Leaderly Quote: Leadership is not about making a big splash…
Leaderly Quote: Leadership is not about making a big splash…

Taking on a challenging “stretch” assignment is a great way to break out of a

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Parul Shorey
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Parul Shorey

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

Stretch Assignments Provide Career Insurance
Stretch Assignments Provide Career Insurance

I was interviewed by Jill Gregorie of Ignites, the Financial Times site source for the

Leaderly Quote: Build a network of people who inspire, challenge and motivate…
Leaderly Quote: Build a network of people who inspire, challenge and motivate…

What’s your most challenging career goal? Whether it is to raise your hand for new

Your Team Has Big Plans. Are Their Hearts In It?
Your Team Has Big Plans. Are Their Hearts In It?

Every team has big plans to make this the best year ever. But those teams

Leaderly Quote: Take the lead…
Leaderly Quote: Take the lead…

Here at Be Leaderly we don’t believe in waiting for permission or an invitation to

7 Ways to Spot a Potential Sponsor
7 Ways to Spot a Potential Sponsor

A sponsor is someone who is willing to place a bet on untapped potential. A

Leaderly Quote: Building a strong team
Leaderly Quote: Building a strong team

A 2015 poll by Monster.com revealed an ugly truth about the extent to which the American

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

Here are our top five, most-read articles that other emerging leaders have been enjoying on

Saying Yes to High Visibility Projects – 5 Steps to Success
Saying Yes to High Visibility Projects – 5 Steps to Success

No matter whether you are just starting out in your career or about to retire,

Leaderly Quote: Leadership presence requires warmth and authority…
Leaderly Quote: Leadership presence requires warmth and authority…

Leadership presence requires warmth and authority. Lead with warmthority. The experts tell us that if

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Nethra Murali
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Nethra Murali

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

You Messed Up at Work. Here’s What To Do Next.
You Messed Up at Work. Here’s What To Do Next.

Your heart is racing. You can’t believe you just messed up at work. You’re certain

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