“Women receive fewer promotions than men because they are less likely to have mentors who are also advocates for them” according to the article “Why men still get more promotions than women” by H. Ibarra, N. Carter and C. Silva in Harvard Business Review (Sept. 2010).
The difference between mentoring and sponsorship is the level of active involvement in helping you with your career. Mentors offer advice and guidance that help you to grow in your career, in your field and within your company. Sponsors speak up for you on your behalf in your absence, introduce you to people who might be able to help you (and vice versa!), and put you on the radar screens of people who can help further your career.
Throughout my career multiple mentors and sponsors took part in my continuous development and growth, both males and females. They supported me when I needed a new approach or new level of thought. They helped me to build my self-confidence and leadership at moments when I felt that I did not have the right skills for a particular role or situation and they brought in unique experiences that added to my understanding of how to play the game of business.
Many women are reluctant to ask someone to mentor them because they fear it is an imposition, they don’t feel connected enough to the people who could mentor them or they don’t know whom to ask to be a mentor.
We can all use someone to help us navigate the road ahead, that is why I strongly advice you – as you build relationships both in your workplace and external network – to look for potential men and/or women who can provide you with valuable feedback, advice, and open doors for you to new opportunities to further your career.
One of my role models is Alan. I cannot thank him enough for the belief he had in me 20 years ago. Alan really helped me through tough times and showed me how to find the opportunities in the difficulties I was facing.
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