Signature Leaders Blog
Signature Leaders Blog
11 Jul 2018

“N” is for: “Nurture new relationships – never hang your hat on just one sponsor”

“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.

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27 Jun 2018

“I” is for: Internalize feedback and take action

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.

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20 Jun 2018

“H” is for: Help your sponsor articulate your value - know your unique gifts and strengths

“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.”

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12 Jun 2018

“S” is for: Show up as a leader a Sponsor would stake his/her reputation on

“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:

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5 Jun 2018

Sponsors Pick You: Put Yourself in a Position to SHINE

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?

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