Good leaders look behind them and create opportunities to develop rising stars. For those just hearing about TWOthroughYOU, join other leaders in making a commitment to sponsor two women to accelerate their careers. This is the second part of a five-part series on how to be a good Sponsor for these women.
The acronym S.P.A.R.K., is a simple guideline of actions sponsors can take to accelerate the career of their sponsorees.
Last week, we discussed the “S” in S.P.A.R.K., which stands for: Shine a light on your sponsoree and advocate on her behalf. If you missed that blog, you can check it out here. This week, our focus is on the letter “P”, which stands for:
Provide access to your powerful network.
Why? Relationships inside and outside of your company take time to build, but they become increasingly important as you move up in your career. You’ve experienced that first hand. Good sponsors share these relationships – both inside and outside the company – with their sponsorees. Facilitating introductions and providing exposure for your sponsorees not only creates shortcuts for building their network, but gives them new ideas and helps build knowledge in areas they might not otherwise have access to.
- Identify people your sponsoree should know based on what she is trying to accomplish or where her career trajectory is taking her.
- Make introductions to your relationships by providing background on each person and why they need to connect.
- Provide your sponsoree with your own insider information – share the history and context of a situation, knowledge of the players, and where the political landmines might be.
- Include her in important client meetings, lunches with senior personnel, and executive gatherings.
- Send her to executive meetings to represent you, giving her the opportunity to shine in front of other leaders.
When I interviewed Kerri Aguilo, SVP at Stop and Shop, for my book, Wisdom Warriors, Women with the Courage to Stay True to Themselves, I loved her story about sponsoring leaders on her team. She gives each a lot of latitude to own their role. She also gives them exposure to senior people by sending them to important meetings in her place.
“I told my CEO that there will be times when I am not going to show up at a meeting, not because I can’t be there, but because I want to allow one of our team to get the experience. I want to give you a chance to see them, without me being in the room.”
“Sometimes you have to take a step back, so you can allow someone else to step forward.” Kerri Aguilo, SVP Center Store Merchandising, Stop and Shop
Kerri has found that the benefit to her sponsoree is significantly greater when she is not there. When they are on their own, they have to be the person to respond to all questions. This stretches them and builds their confidence. She makes the situation a benefit to her senior manager as well, by setting expectations that the sponsoree is there to act on her behalf, not just report back to her.
Sponsors can alter the careers of another. Has this been done for you? Are you currently doing this for a sponsoree?
Tell me in the comments how you’ve experienced “providing access to your powerful network.” By sharing your story or example, you just might be the idea that “sparks” another to action!