My parenting philosophy has always been: “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child,” but if we want to make a difference in our business world, we need to prepare many more paths.
I was conversing with a friend about the “nature vs. nurture” theory, of which factors determine your future. The discussion was the result of a published interviews of the mother and neighbors of a shooter who could not understand how this young man would open fire on a crowd of people. “Nurture” looks at the aspects and impacts of social influence, peer pressure, and environment, as opposed to the genome sequencing or neurotransmitters of “nature” advocates.
Every individual arriving on our business doorstep comes with a set of experiences, values, competencies, personal motivations, and desires. When they cross that doorstep, it is our jobs as leaders to start the “nurture” track. We can only take people forward.
In our business world, we don’t always apply our nurturing skills equally. Many times, we unintentionally provide more networking opportunities and more visibility to someone we have gotten to know better, and as a result, understand better. This can be unconscious bias.
At Signature Leaders, we now deploy many options inside companies to help top leaders learn “how to effectively sponsor” rising talent they do not currently know. We have found that the learning outcomes for these senior leaders are of surprise and acknowledgement. Most senior leaders can’t sponsor (in the classic definition of sponsorship, meaning advocating behind closed doors for the advancement of an individual) someone they don’t know. This is a true statement. So, we help them through a journey of understanding, with a destination of building a trusted relationship where advocacy can happen.
More importantly, the role of this sponsor is “to prepare a path” for this person to gain more visibility in the organization. Connect their sponsee with others they need to get to know. Provide networking opportunities into other parts of the enterprise for chances at new learning and growth. Build an environment where access is more equal for everyone.
Be that door opener and prepare the path for another behind you.
About the Author
Carol Seymour: Global Executive, Speaker, Author and Founder of Signature Leaders
Carol Seymour is a sought-after business leader and seasoned global executive of large and mid-cap size companies and private-equity backed turnarounds. She founded Signature Leaders in 2013 which focuses on accelerating women into next level leadership and helping leaders create greater impact and influence. Signature Leaders was recognized last year as one of Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing Private Companies”.
The Signature series of leadership offerings support the growth of women from Manager level up to and including C-suite executives. Today, more than 3000 global leaders across 6 continents have experienced a Signature program. Signature Leaders partners with more than 140 market-leading companies for their selective investments.
Carol is also a Founding Member of Paradigm for Parity and named one of the Top 40 Women Keynote Speakers for 2020 by RealLeaders Magazine.
Carol resides in Cashiers, NC. She has two married children, three granddaughters, and a grandson.