Mentors! and Coaches! and Sponsors!
I’m a big fan of assembling the right team. This holds true whether you’re fixing the brakes on your car or taking the next step up the corporate ladder. Having the right support team will be a huge help as you:
Navigate office politics
Fill skill gaps
Learn about new and exciting opportunities
Gain exposure to groups you don’t typically work with
Being supported by the right people makes all the difference, building your personal team can be ohhhh so frustrating! Especially if you’re not sure exactly what type of support you need!!
If you’re thinking… “I wish there was an easy way to figure out which of these support people I need”… I’ve good great news! There is!
The short assessment found here will help you determine the type of roles you need on your team based on where you are in your career. (Note: downloading the assessment will also sign you up for my mailing list)
OK. Now that you know if you need a coach, mentor, sponsor (or some combination of these roles), it’s time to start looking for the right people. The best candidates for your support team will have the following attributes:
Expertise in a specific field you want to grow in
Skilled in technical areas where you have skill gaps
Understands your strengths and weaknesses
Able to make expectations clear at the beginning of each coaching session
Patience as you learn new skills
Willing to provide resources, support, and training to implement solutions
Acts as an accountability partner
Note: The Coach’s level of personal risk is low.
Provides constructive feedback and guidance
Asks challenging questions
Helps you see a different path
Identifies behaviors that are holding you back
Demonstrates honesty, openness, and compassion
Gives advice based on experience
Excellent listening skills
High emotional intelligence
Note: The Mentor’s personal risk is non-existent.
Sometimes the same person will fill the Coach and Mentor roles.
Typically, your Sponsor will not be your Coach or Mentor. This person is singularly focused on sponsoring you throughout the organization.
Works in your organization. (Note: The sponsor can be external if you are making a career change)
Holds an executive position
Respected by employees at all levels of the organization
Has a high degree of influence
Creates opportunities for you to engage in high-profile assignments
Introduces you to people within his or her network
Willing to extend their influence to further your career
Advocates for your next promotion
Note: The Sponsor’s level of personal risk is high. Your performance will be linked to your sponsor.
Because your expertise and level of competency will change over time, the people who fill these roles will change too. Be sure to re-evaluate your support team every 4 - 6 months to determine if you need to supplement or change the members as you grow.
The best way to attract the right people to be a coach, mentor, or sponsor is to focus first on connections. Build relationships, ask thoughtful questions, and then ask if they would be willing to support your career growth.
(More on this topic in next week’s blog “Are You My Mentor?”)
We all need guidance as we learn new skills and become more influential leaders. Assembling the right team will make all the difference in your rise.