It is clear that having a mentor is advantageous for anyone wanting to move up, and especially for women.
Research has shown that a mentor helps protégés gain career outcomes such as: higher compensation and faster salary growth, greater job and career satisfaction and organizational commitment, and higher expectations for advancement. Mentors do this by providing coaching, challenging assignments, sponsorship, and exposure and visibility. In addition, mentors can provide psychosocial support by serving as role models and providing counseling, acceptance and friendship.
Mentoring in the legal profession is not new. For women lawyers, in particular, mentors can be invaluable sources of guidance on everything from the nuts and bolts of the practice to work/life balance strategies. Many firms have formal mentoring programs for associates, pairing them with a partner or senior associate who can help them develop their skills as lawyers. Every young lawyer should seek out and develop a positive relationship with a mentor (and pay it forward to the next generation by becoming a mentor in the years ahead).
Having the right sponsor can make a dramatic impact on your career advancement. It’s such a powerful relationship that I have included it in the political toolkit in my book, The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead. In fact, I call it the “Get Out of Jail Free Card”. Because just as this card gets you out of tough situations and propels you forward in Monopoly, a sponsor protects you and promotes you to win in the workplace.
We all know how important mentoring is to career success. Yet having a sponsor is even more critical to advancement in the workplace. What exactly is a sponsor? And how do they differ from mentors?
According to Catalyst research, a mentor is usually someone outside your current organisation who provides career direction and advice, helps to identify opportunities, and offers feedback and support.