Coach, mentor or sponsor?

Last week we were talking about coaches, mentors and sponsors with guest Vandana Juneja, Senior Director at Catalyst Inc on our Facebook live stream.

In the most basic of terms:

  • A coach talks to you
  • A mentor talks with you
  • A sponsor talks about you

A career coach can provide you with guidance on your career and life ambitions. They will ask you meaningful questions to help you get from your point A to your point B; or even to determine what that point B is.

A coach can help you if you’re stuck in a career rut, if you are embarking on a career change or they can help you with your resume and interview skills. I personally struggled to invest in myself by getting a career coach and it is something that I wish I had done a lot sooner. If you have an awesome coach, please share their details with us in our Facebook group.

Mentoring is a long-term relationship where the focus is on supporting the growth and development of the mentee. They help you get to your point B but won’t give you the detailed map that the coach will. If you think back on your career you can probably identify someone that has encouraged you, pushed you, brainstormed ideas with you and has generally believed in your potential. Though typically more experienced than you, there is also great benefit from having peer mentors and / or reciprocal mentors.

It is never too late to find a mentor either. Particularly if you are considering a new venture, an industry change or looking for some direction on the challenges of getting back into the workforce. If you would like to find a mentor within the tellent membership base, please email me.

A mentor offers many benefits in supporting your career aspiration however Catalyst research has shown that women tend to be over-mentored and under-sponsored. A mentor is typically limited to supporting your actions and has less opportunity to advocate for you within your organization.

Having a sponsor relationship increases the ability to have impact and influence which is critical to career advancement and acceleration. A sponsor is someone within your organization at a high-level who will advocate for you. They will talk about you, fight for you and increase the visibility of your successes in order to pull you up through the organization. Men, whether intentional or not, tend to move into an organization and seek out high level and influential relationships. Relationships that then turn into sponsorships.

Good sponsors can supercharge a woman’s career by providing her with access to essential networks, bringing her achievements to the attention of senior-level executives, and recommending her for key assignments.”

Sponsorship works best when it develops organically. Building relationships and advocating on your own behalf is key to getting visibility at a higher level. Remember it isn’t who you know, but who knows you so network, network, network!

Catalyst research also showed that there is not only great value in having a sponsor but also in being a sponsor. Over the course of a two-year period, those sponsoring other women experienced a gap of $25,000 more in salary.

So let’s commit to celebrating the support and guidance we have had from our coaches, mentors and sponsors and commit to helping others in the same way. As the Catalyst research noted, paying it forward pays back!

Watch the full live stream video here.