We can all agree that sponsoring talented people into leadership roles is good for the business and good for your sponsorees, but as a sponsor, how do you benefit? Choosing to be a sponsor is a commitment, requiring significant investment on your behalf. But if you choose to take on this important role, know that you will benefit more than you thought possible.
Leaders who sponsor other rising leaders are demonstrating their ability to groom talented people and to lead in their organizations. Who wouldn’t want to be known for having “an eye for talent”? According to The Center for Talent Innovation, white male leaders with a cadre of sponsorees are 11% more satisfied with their own rate of advancement vs. leaders who haven’t invested in “up and comers.” This holds true for all leaders who commit to sponsoring others.
Have you ever started or led an initiative that could never get enough momentum to get off the ground? Have you seen it happen to others? There are many possible reasons why initiatives fail, but often, it is the ability of a leader to gain followership that is the make or break point. Sponsors extend their leadership impact by creating loyal followers who believe in their leadership ability as a sponsor and as a leader. Your sponsorees can be your advocates at various levels throughout the organization.
Finally, your view from the top can be clouded. When you need valuable information from lower in the organization, your sponsoree can provide that unfiltered feedback.
“Humans are incredibly perceptive. And they seem to be more perceptive when they look at people above than when they look down.” -Pedro Pizarro, President and CEO Edison International
It may be personal feedback about how you are perceived as a leader or it may be related to the business, but your sponsoree may see or hear things you miss altogether. Consider the approach Gretchen McClain, former CEO of Xylem used when she would visit site locations. She would ask the high performing leader of the team to walk with her, and at the front of the tour, she would just say… “Tell me what you see.” For Gretchen, this provided a fresh perspective that was incredibly valuable as she worked to make big decisions for her company.
Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your sponsorees is beneficial for everyone. As a sponsor, don’t be afraid to ask your sponsoree for her input or advice. That insight just might be the knowledge you need to make a difference in your own decision making.
Remember, you get as much as you give.
When have you benefited from the insights or information of someone you were sponsoring? Share in the comments below.