Sponsorship and Focusing On Your Strengths
One of the keys to success is knowing, and leveraging, your strengths, rather than obsessing over how to improve your weaknesses. The same is true for organizations, and their people. Too often professional development focuses on programs and individual interventions designed to help the people who are struggling, rather than advance the high potentials. Yet the long-term success of the organization depends most on retaining and advancing star performers, and regrettable attrition – the people who leave long before you wanted them to, if you ever did – is the worst kind of loss.
And that’s where sponsors fit into the picture. Too many times organizations rely solely on mentoring programs as a component of training and development. While effective mentoring can help people learn the ropes and become comfortable in a position, it doesn’t distinguish between new employees who have yet to prove themselves, and the players who have already delivered for your organization and are more of a known entity. Sponsorship embodies that distinction, and it’s what matters for moving proteges up through the ranks and into positions of influence and leadership. Spending time encouraging your senior leaders to invest their time, energy, and political capital into sponsoring promising people — by advocating for them in closed door staffing meetings, expanding others’ perceptions of the protege’s abilities, and introducing the protege to people who matter — may be one of the best investments you can make in helping your organization leverage its strengths.