The goalkeeper for the university soccer team was ready. The ball was coming down the field toward him, two forwards passing it between them as his own teammates unable to steal it away. He saw the shot coming, crouched, and leaped left. The kick was beautiful. The keeper’s fingertips brushed the ball but not enough to stop the score. [Read more…] about Call Out the Good Stuff
Jenni Broyles: VP and GM, North America & Global Outdoor, Wrangler – Kontoor Brands, Inc.
Kathleen Ligocki: Board Director and Serial CEO
Carol Seymour: Founder and CEO – Signature Leaders
Katy Vu: CFO of North America – Bunzl
While the impacts of the Great Resignation ripple through all organizations, leaders are finding it difficult to slow the attrition rates, especially for women. Identifying and solving the reasons why employees are moving elsewhere may be as challenging as coping with the resulting vacancies. In a recent gathering of top-level Signature executives, Jenni Broyles, VP and GM for North America & Global Outdoor at Wrangler, pointed out: “Where I think we’re blowing the executive team’s mind is why people are leaving. Some are just burned out. They’re not leaving because they have another mega job. They’re just tired; they’re going to take a break… These kinds of reasons, you can’t throw money at.” [Read more…] about Keeping Your Top Talent Means Recognizing and Investing in Them
October 19th was my parents’ wedding anniversary. Had they been alive, today would mark 75 years. This past weekend, I met my five sisters for a “Sister’s Weekend”, the first time we had been together since February 2020 (which we all mark now as “pre-pandemic”). Much of my time with sisters is spent reminiscing on great memories created growing up and how wonderful we knew our parents to be. [Read more…] about Nature vs. Nurture – The Role of Inclusive Leaders
What’s the Difference Between Mentorship and Sponsorship?
Part Three: Am I Being Sponsored?
Are you being sponsored? As a growing number of our partners prioritize sponsorship to increase the velocity of diverse and rising executives, we’re taking an ongoing look at some of the key behaviors for effective sponsorship. Our previous two posts have focused on the public nature of sponsorship, and answered questions from senior leaders wondering, “Am I a Sponsor?” In today’s post, we answer questions from rising leaders who are wondering, “Am I Being Sponsored?”
Are You Being Sponsored or Mentored?
Over eight years of developing more than 1600 female leaders from the Director to C-suite levels, we have seen firsthand how important sponsorship is for the visibility and career velocity of the impressive women leaders we serve. When I ask the participants of each cohort to raise their hands if they have an internal sponsor, almost everyone raises their hand. Most think their manager is a sponsor.
When we delve into the differences, our participants realize they have great mentors and supportive managers, but few really have a sponsor. How do you know if you are being sponsored?
What’s the Difference Between Mentorship and Sponsorship?
Part Two: Am I a Career Sponsor?
As a growing number of our partners prioritize sponsorship to increase the velocity of diverse and rising executives, we’re taking an ongoing look at some of the key behaviors for effective sponsorship. Our previous post focused on the public nature of sponsorship. In today’s post, we consider the leadership qualities that make someone a sponsor.
Are You a Career Sponsor or a Mentor?
As we write this, we’re in the midst of our first cohort of Signature Strive, a year-long leadership development program for exceptional rising executives from a dozen of our global partners. Sponsorship is a key component of the program, so we’re spending substantial time coaching senior executives on how to sponsor their protégés.
Through these conversations, we uncover a lot of uncertainties about the nature of sponsorship — even from those who think they’re doing it right. It all comes down to a common underlying question: Am I a sponsor?
Part One: Sponsorship is Done Publicly
As a growing number of our partners prioritize sponsorship to increase the velocity of diverse and rising executives, we’ll be taking an ongoing look at some of the key behaviors for effective sponsorship. In today’s post, we focus on the public nature of sponsorship.
A Protégé Asks for Help
We recently started a new Signature Strive program with a dozen global partners. This year-long leadership development program for high-potential rising executives pairs each participant with a senior sponsor: a leader 1-2 levels above them and relatively unknown to each other. A significant part of this learning journey is coaching the senior executives on what good sponsorship looks like and how it is different than mentorship.
One of our senior sponsors, Aaron, took the learning and put it into action.
Aaron is serving as a senior sponsor to one of the program’s rising executives, Jordan, who works in a different business unit. They are at the beginning of their relationship journey. Jordan had been asked to give a presentation to her senior leadership team about her vision and strategy for a new initiative at the company. It was a great opportunity for her to showcase her leadership potential. [Read more…] about What’s the Difference Between Mentorship and Sponsorship?
“People sometimes ask me, ‘What’s the time commitment to sponsor someone?’ And I reply, ‘What’s the time commitment to be a leader?’” — Carol Seymour, CEO of Signature Leaders
Who benefits most from a culture of sponsorship?
The answer might seem obvious at first. When championed by senior leaders, protégés — particularly women or those from other underrepresented groups — find their ceilings lifted and their career advancement accelerated.
This truth is rooted, however, in understanding that underrepresented individuals can’t — and shouldn’t be asked to — do all the work of blazing new pathways to a more inclusive organization. They need sponsors who see their potential and advocate on their behalf. They need an organizational culture that values, welcomes, and rewards the fullness of their diverse perspectives and unique gifts. [Read more…] about The Superpowers of Diversity Sponsorship
I love March and its celebration of Women’s History month and International Women’s Day. It gives us a chance to recognize the wonderful milestones accomplished by many courageous women over time. It also creates a renewed focus on the need to continue to make progress.
Women’s History month goes all the way back to 1857. It is now 2021, and according to the World Economic Forum’s annual “Global Gender Gap Report 2020” we are 99.5 years away from global gender parity. And if you look at the gap in terms of economic participation, that number is 257 years, 52 years longer than it was pre-pandemic. Women have lost ground. We have a long way to go!
What makes a strong woman? I came across an old magazine article over the weekend. You may not remember her name, but you likely remember seeing photos of the young female surfer competing without an arm. Bethany Hamilton was 13 when she lost her arm in a shark attack while surfing in Kauai. After losing 2/3 of her blood, her future was uncertain. Yet 24 days after the attack, Bethany was back on a surfboard. Two years later, she was a national champion.
Bethany’s mindset – her ability to focus on what she could do and what was possible instead of the obstacles and challenges – kept her moving forward. I was struck by the words Bethany gave the interviewer: “My passion for surfing outweighed my fear of sharks. I dreamed of surfing competitively and the loss of my arm didn’t stop that dream.”* [Read more…] about What Does It Mean To Be A Strong Woman
At this point in 2018, you have probably heard the term “reverse mentoring.” It is where less experienced professionals mentor their own leaders. Cox Communications, located here in Atlanta, GA, is doing this using the Wisdom Warriors book to facilitate discussions. Many other companies are employing this relatively new concept to get the most out of their workforce and give their leaders access to the skills and knowledge available in its up-and-comers. Reverse mentoring allows companies to bring new perspectives into leadership conversations and make it a safe space to give and receive information. [Read more…] about “E” is for: Enlighten your Sponsor with new intelligence he/she may not have access to
“I had a wonderful sponsor in my company who was two levels above me, until she decided to take a position in another organization. Suddenly, I was left without an advocate at my company.”
-Susan Beat, Senior Vice President at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Research shows that individuals who are most satisfied with their rate of advancement are individuals with sponsors. It’s great to have a sponsor. But it’s even better to have more than one. As Susan found out, there is a risk in hooking your star to just one person in upper management. When that person moves on from your organization, you can be left without a sponsor to advocate on your behalf.
What does it mean to internalize something such as feedback in a workplace? We know that feedback helps us learn and improve. We know that frequent feedback leads to better performance. So why do we shy away from asking for feedback?
Early in my career, I waited for my annual performance review to get feedback. I was nervous, and if I heard, “You are doing great,” I would smile, sigh with relief, and move the conversation to other topics. Receiving feedback can be uncomfortable, but it is invaluable for your career development. If you don’t take the opportunity to ask real, probing questions, you might not get the feedback you need until it is too late.
Most companies do not have a culture of providing regular or unsolicited feedback, so you have to be proactive. Establish a regular cadence of asking for input. Your manager, your peers, your direct reports, and especially your sponsor, who is invested in your success, can be great sources of feedback – if you know how to ask. [Read more…] about What Does It Mean To Internalize Something
“You are responsible for driving your own career.” It’s a refrain we have all heard before, and it may seem obvious, so why do so many people struggle to do this effectively? Often, it is because we don’t know where we want to go. We can’t picture a career path because we can’t picture the destination. What if I told you that you don’t need to know where you want to go?
Your mentors, coaches, and most of all, your sponsors can help you pick a destination.
You just need to be able to articulate your value – your unique gifts – that will help you on the journey. If you can’t describe your own value, how can you expect anyone else to promote you?
In this blog on how to SHINE and earn a sponsor, we emphasize the importance of identifying your unique gifts, articulating them to potential sponsors, and utilizing your sponsors’ broader knowledge of the business to pick the best opportunities for you and your career.
What are you passionate about?
To find out, start with this simple exercise. On a piece of paper, create a left column and a right column. Each evening, on the left side, record your highest energy moment of the day; the point where you felt like you were “on fire.” On the right side, put down the moment that drained your energy; when you felt like you were “off.” [Read more…] about “H” is for: Help your sponsor articulate your value – know your unique gifts and strengths
“How do we communicate to people that they don’t just get a sponsor? How do you help them understand that sponsorship is support they have to earn?”
I received this question from one of our partner companies that is working to start an internal sponsorship program to develop its people. This question is pertinent because sponsors are different from mentors. Mentors give you advice, but sponsors put their own reputations on the line to help advance your career. You can choose your mentors, but sponsors choose you.
Sponsors will make an investment in you, and it is your job to earn that investment. In this five-part blog series, we will help you see how you can set yourself up to earn the support of a sponsor and take your career to the next level. We will equip you with tools to “S.H.I.N.E.”
First, you must “Show up as a leader a Sponsor would stake his/her reputation on.” Here’s how: [Read more…] about “S” is for: Show up as a leader a Sponsor would stake his/her reputation on
It’s annual review time, and you are called in for your feedback session. They tell you that, again, you were rated as a high performer. Your career trajectory has been rapid so far, but you are starting to set your sights on the leadership levels in your organization. Your boss obviously knows you do great work. But who else knows? When it comes time to identify the company’s next set of leaders, is there someone in that conversation that is in your corner? Do they know what you want and how well you perform? Do you have a sponsor to represent your best interests when the best opportunities are discussed?
There is a tipping point in every career. Hard work alone will not maintain your career acceleration. Eventually, you will need support – the support of someone in a more senior position who can be your sponsor. The person who will put their own reputation on the line, speak on your behalf, and open doors to new opportunities and relationships.
But unlike a mentor, you can’t pick a sponsor. Sponsors must pick you. So how do you make yourself a top pick for a potential sponsor? [Read more…] about Sponsors Pick You: Put Yourself in a Position to SHINE