Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mentor or Sponsor? What do you need?

Throughout my whole professional career I have had many mentors and sponsors. My first work mentor appeared on a part-time job while working on an answering service in the 70's.  This is when I realized I had someone looking out for me.  Yes, in the 70's we had answering services that substituted as Assistants during the day and evening for doctors and many corporate one man offices.

One of my customers who worked for ITT Terryphone Corporation liked the way I handled his clients.  He coached me for over six months on telephone etiquette and proactive customer service behaviors.  Then one day he said, "Do you want a full-time job learning the Telecommunications profession?" I said yes and he hired me when he had an opening sight unseen.  This was my first IT job!

Mentors and sponsors come in all shape and sizes, all levels, and may not be identified as such.  You just need to recognize that what you learn from others is extremely valuable and parlay it into your playbook of work life.  So what does a mentor do?  A Mentor is someone usually more senior than you who advises and trains you.  They are trusted and honest.  This confidant allows you to be a little vulnerable and open to what you are concerned or struggling with and offers constructive options to change your situation.

A Sponsor is someone who supports another person many times without their knowledge.  A sponsor  believes you are capable and has no concern about putting their reputation on the line by speaking up for you during key settings.  This type of support is extremely valuable because it is usually how many of us gain visibility with others more senior in work settings.

Finally, mentors and sponsors can be the same person but don't have to be.  Be mindful of this so you are not disappointed in your mentor.

TIP
You need both mentors and sponsors as you navigate your career.  When tapped for new work assignment or job opportunity remember this may be the work of a sponsor so do your best work because you are probably standing on the reputation of a hidden sponsor.

TREAT
I was reintroduced to one of my favorite Malbecs Super Bowl weekend.  Jelu from Argentina.  This wine is smooth, fruit forward and exhibits all of elements of the beautiful climate where it was cultivated.  This is a great wine with heavy vegetables and sauces or just by itself.