“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.
When you give a gift, do you wait for someone to come and ask you for it or do you take it to her?
I met Pat 7 weeks after her husband had passed away. I was invited to a dinner in my mountain town by a friend who wanted to connect three new people. We each took a moment to tell our “story,” but it was hard for Pat to tell hers; she hadn’t had much time to think about Pat without Ed.
Pat relayed how wonderful people had been during the 10 days Ed was in the hospital, and for those 7 weeks after his death. So many people had said, “please know that we are here if you need us.”
Somewhere in our early lives, we learn that exposing our weaknesses is not a good thing. Along the way, we figure out ways to shield ourselves from that exposure as often as we can. It is in our nature to want to be in control. This holds true in the business world, where we don’t want anyone to know we fear anything.
However, the ability to share imperfections and insecurities helps us be our authentic selves. It is what connects us to others and what builds strong, trusting relationships. And it takes courage to do so.
Fran Weissman, CFO at Amscan, Inc. thought that vulnerability was a handicap in the workplace. She thought bringing your A-game to work meant arriving with your poker-face, and showing no emotion.
I recently went to Nicaragua to visit my daughter Paige, who is one of the leaders of a mission-based organization working to bring steady supplies of water to undeveloped communities. Each week, a new group arrives from some church, school, or the like, to spend their week on this mission.
When I arrived, a group of high school girls were just finishing their mission week, and I sat in on their Friday night “Reflections and Farewells.” I had been in this same spot myself on several occasions, and hearing the impact that this week had on these young ladies was joyful. Near the end of the reflection time, my daughter asked if anyone was angry when, on the first day, their teachers asked each of them to give up their cell phones while on mission. (This is not a requirement of the mission, but more of a challenge from the teachers who had accompanied these girls on the trip.) There were quite a few hands raised answering “yes” to that question.
Paige then asked how they fared, and would anyone share their reflection on being without a cell phone.
It was this next discussion that became a leadership eye-opener.