I've been preaching for a long time that having a mentor isn't enough to get you big dog status. The Washington Post has a great article that drives that point home. From the Washington Post: Much ado has been made recently about the importance of sponsors, versus mentors, in the career advancement of women. Just this summer, Catalyst released a study, Sponsoring Women to Success , pointing to the fact that sponsorship may in fact be the single most critical strategy for accelerating a woman’s career.
So just what is the difference between a mentor and sponsor? Think of mentors as the friendly guides who dispense helpful information, offering up input and advice to mentees. Sponsors, on the other hand, are defined by their organizational clout and ability to open doors; they will personally advocate for a cause, project or promotion on a protégé’s behalf.
Women, it’s time to get a sponsor.
What may in effect sound like a slight distinction actually has major implications. Research substantiates that women tend to lag behind men when it comes to promotions, even when women have mentors. Yet when women’s mentors are high ranking—that is to say, when they fall into the ‘sponsor’ category—women are just as likely as men to get promoted. As the Catalyst study authors note, a sponsor “can propel a protégé to the top of a list or pile of candidates or even eliminate the list itself.”
Read the rest here.