ReConnect Principle 7 — Sponsor others Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. — Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric Sponsorship is so much more than mentoring. It is the intentional support of another, taking action, collaborating and sharing what you know and who you know to better someone else. Sponsorship in the workplace, especially for women, is still regarded with a mixture of suspicion and ignorance — and a feeling of ‘what’s in it for me?’ from the sponsor, which to a large extent colours the relationship before it even starts. For a truly two-way sponsorship to work, then, it has to happen in the right environment — and that environment is one of collaborative thinking. Sponsors vs. mentors Sylvia Ann Hewlet, president and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation and a Manhattan-based think tank says, ‘Mentors advise, sponsors act.’ And herein lies the subtle and yet crucial difference between mentors and sponsors. On the one hand, mentors provide guidance, helping define visions and goals. Mentoring is more of a softly, softly approach; catching up for chats and being a willing sounding board for thoughts and ideas. Mentoring is more about giving advice and listening to concerns than saying, ‘Yes, I will help you gain X.’ Active sponsorship, meanwhile, is far more powerful and a large obligation — but the results for those being sponsored are often far greater than for those being mentored. Usually sponsorship is from someone senior within the protégé’s own company, or a successful entrepreneur within the same field. Fundamentally, sponsorship involves the active support of another to achieve their goals. Sponsors: • • • • • • • take action open doors make invaluable introductions give business/career leads are in it for the long haul help pave the path to success help others to achieve their visions, goals and dreams for personal and business success • help build a powerful and diverse network • influence activity and decision-making • actively build the pipeline of future game changers, entrepreneurs, leaders and business owners. Sponsorship takes collaboration to a whole new level. It does not necessarily have an immediate benefit to the sponsor, but it does: • build and support the next generation of leaders (men and women) • show through behaviour modelling the requirements of future leaders • share kn owledge, insight and connection for the long-term benefit of the recipient.