Chances are you got to where you are today at least partly because of others. Sure, you applied your skills and brains, so credit is due. Even the most industrious self-made success story received help. At times, that help came in the form of your mentors and sponsors. Now, why not return the favor?
We hear a lot of talk about the leadership pipeline. This pipeline doesn’t automatically build itself. Leaders like you must continually look within your ranks and outside your organizations to find worthy candidates and high-impact individuals. Once you identify people who fit your criteria for mentorship and sponsorship, it’s time for you personally to decide how much your plate can hold as a supporter of one or more.
Potential stars may naturally come to you for help. This pool provides an easy array from which to select a person or people you want to sponsor. After identification was either made by you or turned up at your office door, you select your mentee or sponsorship recipient. Then, communicate with them. This is not the time for mystery. Start a conversation for initiation into the process. Doing this in a formal way also helps set accountability parameters. Any healthy mentorship relationship puts much of the impetus on the mentee to stay in touch, set calendars and seek advice when needed. If you are a true sponsor, more of the growth obligation lies with you. Certainly, once the relationship begins moving, you can give your selected person guidelines to be proactive in his or her own success story.
No time to be selfish or protective of your valuable connections. Inspiring your person is a key function of your role as sponsor or mentor. If you remember a previous WOW! List about three words to live by: delegate, strategize, showcase (see C-Level Magazine June 2016), inspiring your person helps you fulfill two of those words. In doing so, you share some of your relationships. You strategize by identifying and selecting your person. You showcase your own leadership by inspiring your person. You also showcase your brand as others see you growing your person within an organization. Celebrate the wins of your person and seek to inspire others to find their own people. In turn, you help find solutions to the talent shortage many companies have right now. Plus, you create a better workplace culture.