Sponsoring key to advancing women, execs say
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Posted by: Barbara Francella
mentorship — transfers power in the workplace, according to a panel of
senior executives offering their insights at the NEW Leadership Academy
supersession held during the NEW Leadership Summit, Oct. 22, in Atlanta.
Buffington, vice president, customer solutions at The Coca-Cola Company; Walmart’s
Amy Parton, category director, pets, and Jody Pinson, vice president merchandising,
beauty; and Publix Super Markets’ Alison Midili Smith, vice president of talent
development shared their experiences with sponsorship. Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s
Leadership Coaching Inc., moderated the session.
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help you ‘skill up,’ sponsors help you move up,” Miller said. "Mentors give you
perspective. Sponsors give you opportunities.”
13 percent of women in large companies have sponsors. Yet, women who have
sponsors are 22 percent more likely to ask for stretch assignments and raises,
effective sponsor is influential and respected and has a track record of
developing talent and providing exposure opportunities to their protégés, ‘air cover’ from damaging
or negative publicity, and a safety net during downsizing, reorganizations or
offered these eight tips for securing a sponsor:
- Know who the good sponsors are.
- Observe the protocols: How does sponsorship work in your organization?
- Network beyond your direct management chain.
- Raise your hand for exposure opportunities to work with or for potential
- Make your value visible.
- Have clear career goals.
- Share your career goals with your leader.
Sponsorships often begin as mentorships, Buffington said. As a sponsor, the senior executive will make sure she clearly understands her protégé's career goals, then looks for job opportunities for her, going as far as calling hiring managers, prepping her for job interviews, ensuring she is nominated for leadership or other training programs, and working both behind the scenes and in a more overt way to advance the protege's career.
Parton, who considers Pinson a sponsor, said Pinson puts her in stretch work situations that Pinson believes she is capable of handing, which has improved her confidence, visibility and performance.
For her part, Pinson said sponsorship starts with performance. "You don't deserve a sponsor if you don't perform," she said. "But it's also about how you perform. If you leave a wake of bodies, it's not something we are looking for. I watch how a person interacts with her peers. The other piece is how do they relate to external partners? How do they go get from our suppliers things our market needs?"
A key trait Smith looks for in a protégé is the ability to successfully manage a relationship with the boss. "Is the person flexible? What is her political acumen?"
Behave and perform as if everyone is watching, Smith advised, "because you are being watched. I know someone being sponsored who has no idea he is being sponsored."
Panelists Martha Buffington
of The Coca-Cola Company, Alison Midili Smith of
Publix, moderator Jo Miller of Women's Leadership Coaching, and Amy Parton
and Jodi Pinson of Walmart shared their thoughts on mentorship and sponsorship.