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Forget a mentor, find a sponsor: the new way to fast-track your career - Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track.



Protégés attract sponsors by delivering in exceptional ways and secure sponsorship by remaining utterly devoted, even as they distinguish themselves as stars in their own right. In return, sponsors invest in their protégés, not because they’re impelled to pay it forward but because they recognize the incredible benefit to their own careers of building a loyal cadre of outstanding performers who can extend their reach, build their legacy, and burnish their reputation. Over time, both parties win. Indeed, the win-win aspect of sponsorship is what accounts for its extraordinary leverage and durability.

Contrast this to the decidedly one-way street of mentorship. Mentors give: They devote time, impart wisdom, and act as a sounding board (or a shoulder to cry on). Mentees receive: They’re obliged to do nothing but show up and listen. Mentors take an interest in the mentee’s career, but not a stake in it, because they’re not going to be held accountable for outcomes. Mentorship is at heart an expenditure rather than an investment, a gift rather than an alliance. It’s doomed to peter out: The mentee outgrows the mentor’s range of experience, and the mentor moves on to needier novitiates.

What this means is that the nature of your support relationships is up to you. You’ll get back what you put in. If you’re a high-potential or strong performer, you’ll attract the interest of your superiors, but whether that interest translates into mentorship or sponsorship is a function of your investment. You might be tapped for development, but you’re not going to be given a ride on the coattails of anyone who doesn’t see you pulling your weight (and then some). Mentors may pick you, but you pick your sponsors by committing yourself to their best interests.

Protégés attract sponsors by delivering in exceptional ways and secure sponsorship by remaining utterly devoted, even as they distinguish themselves as stars in their own right. In return, sponsors invest in their protégés, not because they’re impelled to pay it forward but because they recognize the incredible benefit to their own careers of building a loyal cadre of outstanding performers who can extend their reach, build their legacy, and burnish their reputation. Over time, both parties win. Indeed, the win-win aspect of sponsorship is what accounts for its extraordinary leverage and durability.

Contrast this to the decidedly one-way street of mentorship. Mentors give: They devote time, impart wisdom, and act as a sounding board (or a shoulder to cry on). Mentees receive: They’re obliged to do nothing but show up and listen. Mentors take an interest in the mentee’s career, but not a stake in it, because they’re not going to be held accountable for outcomes. Mentorship is at heart an expenditure rather than an investment, a gift rather than an alliance. It’s doomed to peter out: The mentee outgrows the mentor’s range of experience, and the mentor moves on to needier novitiates.

What this means is that the nature of your support relationships is up to you. You’ll get back what you put in. If you’re a high-potential or strong performer, you’ll attract the interest of your superiors, but whether that interest translates into mentorship or sponsorship is a function of your investment. You might be tapped for development, but you’re not going to be given a ride on the coattails of anyone who doesn’t see you pulling your weight (and then some). Mentors may pick you, but you pick your sponsors by committing yourself to their best interests.

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The SHRMStore has moved its books to an affiliate model with Amazon. Your purchase of this book on SHRM's Amazon store supports the HR profession and SHRM's mission.

SHRM provides content as a service to its readers and members. It does not offer legal advice, and cannot guarantee the accuracy or suitability of its content for a particular purpose.

If you want to get even more from TED, like the ability to save talks to watch later,  sign up for a TED account now .

Protégés attract sponsors by delivering in exceptional ways and secure sponsorship by remaining utterly devoted, even as they distinguish themselves as stars in their own right. In return, sponsors invest in their protégés, not because they’re impelled to pay it forward but because they recognize the incredible benefit to their own careers of building a loyal cadre of outstanding performers who can extend their reach, build their legacy, and burnish their reputation. Over time, both parties win. Indeed, the win-win aspect of sponsorship is what accounts for its extraordinary leverage and durability.

Contrast this to the decidedly one-way street of mentorship. Mentors give: They devote time, impart wisdom, and act as a sounding board (or a shoulder to cry on). Mentees receive: They’re obliged to do nothing but show up and listen. Mentors take an interest in the mentee’s career, but not a stake in it, because they’re not going to be held accountable for outcomes. Mentorship is at heart an expenditure rather than an investment, a gift rather than an alliance. It’s doomed to peter out: The mentee outgrows the mentor’s range of experience, and the mentor moves on to needier novitiates.

What this means is that the nature of your support relationships is up to you. You’ll get back what you put in. If you’re a high-potential or strong performer, you’ll attract the interest of your superiors, but whether that interest translates into mentorship or sponsorship is a function of your investment. You might be tapped for development, but you’re not going to be given a ride on the coattails of anyone who doesn’t see you pulling your weight (and then some). Mentors may pick you, but you pick your sponsors by committing yourself to their best interests.

JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser.
You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website.

The SHRMStore has moved its books to an affiliate model with Amazon. Your purchase of this book on SHRM's Amazon store supports the HR profession and SHRM's mission.

SHRM provides content as a service to its readers and members. It does not offer legal advice, and cannot guarantee the accuracy or suitability of its content for a particular purpose.

Protégés attract sponsors by delivering in exceptional ways and secure sponsorship by remaining utterly devoted, even as they distinguish themselves as stars in their own right. In return, sponsors invest in their protégés, not because they’re impelled to pay it forward but because they recognize the incredible benefit to their own careers of building a loyal cadre of outstanding performers who can extend their reach, build their legacy, and burnish their reputation. Over time, both parties win. Indeed, the win-win aspect of sponsorship is what accounts for its extraordinary leverage and durability.

Contrast this to the decidedly one-way street of mentorship. Mentors give: They devote time, impart wisdom, and act as a sounding board (or a shoulder to cry on). Mentees receive: They’re obliged to do nothing but show up and listen. Mentors take an interest in the mentee’s career, but not a stake in it, because they’re not going to be held accountable for outcomes. Mentorship is at heart an expenditure rather than an investment, a gift rather than an alliance. It’s doomed to peter out: The mentee outgrows the mentor’s range of experience, and the mentor moves on to needier novitiates.

What this means is that the nature of your support relationships is up to you. You’ll get back what you put in. If you’re a high-potential or strong performer, you’ll attract the interest of your superiors, but whether that interest translates into mentorship or sponsorship is a function of your investment. You might be tapped for development, but you’re not going to be given a ride on the coattails of anyone who doesn’t see you pulling your weight (and then some). Mentors may pick you, but you pick your sponsors by committing yourself to their best interests.

JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser.
You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website.

The SHRMStore has moved its books to an affiliate model with Amazon. Your purchase of this book on SHRM's Amazon store supports the HR profession and SHRM's mission.

SHRM provides content as a service to its readers and members. It does not offer legal advice, and cannot guarantee the accuracy or suitability of its content for a particular purpose.

If you want to get even more from TED, like the ability to save talks to watch later,  sign up for a TED account now .

Combining cutting-edge research in genetics, gender, behavior, and cognition - with examples from their own lives and those of other successful women in politics, media, and business - Kay and Shipman go beyond admonishing women to "lean in".

Combining cutting-edge research in genetics, gender, behavior, and cognition - with examples from their own lives and those of other successful women in politics, media, and business - Kay and Shipman go beyond admonishing women to "lean in".

Who's pulling for you? Who's got your back? Who's putting your hat in the ring? Odds are this person is not a mentor but a sponsor. Mentors can build your self-esteem and provide a sounding board - but they're not your ticket to the top.


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