Societies have been passing down their teachings for thousands of years. The teachings and skills of philosophers, leaders, and experienced individuals have been transferred through the generations through spoken word, lecture, and training. People have absorbed and built on experiences of others in order to better advance their lives and societies, through the evolution of the mind. Fast forward to the modern era, and this characteristic of human behaviour continues – in the context of the professional corporate world, as leadership – in mentors and sponsors.
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Merriam-Webster defines a mentor as: “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines this person as: “An experienced and trusted advisor;” and “An experienced person in a company, college, or school who trains and counsels new employees or students”. Mentorship is chosen by people who care; through the establishment of a guide – the mentor, and a receiver – a mentee. Often, mentorship is focused on the shaping of young minds and the building of a foundation for success.
Different to a mentor, a sponsor is an established individual with a tenure of experience that has taken the initiative to help you advance, and believes in your abilities and character at all levels holistically. They will open doors, offer advice, and have a vested interest in seeing you succeed. Often, a Sponsor is someone who possesses the power of influence. Merriam-Webster defines a sponsor as: “one who assumes responsibility for some other person or thing”. In this way, a sponsor is a very valuable asset and it is an honour to be chosen by one.
Does this sound like someone you know?
You may already have a mentor or a sponsor and not realize it. There are skilled and experienced people within your circle who take an altruistic stance toward leadership and believe in people. Mentors and Sponsors position the people they believe in to add value to the bigger picture and guide them to move forward in the circle of life. Strong leaders believe and care for people. It is about the ownership of your abilities. They encourage, guide, educate and inspire you to own your being as a person. This in turn will lead you to achievement in all aspects of your life and not just your career.
Why is this important?
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What you take from the relationship with your mentors and sponsors will shape your future. In building your mind and attitude, what they teach today will create the characteristics that make a leader tomorrow. Your progress in a professional setting can be measured through your achievements and your career trajectory will reflect your leadership. Outside the professional realm, the philosophical guidance will allow you to see the world differently, and understand how you are able to create your impact on our world as a leader.
As Emily Hanna, Partner, Investments, Crown Realty Partners describes in Matrix Search: Real Talk Series Phase II, “Casual Collisions” are opportunities that we all may look forward to – where we are able to learn something new when meeting new people. Learning is based at all levels and found in a variety of platforms where you are able to meet mentors and sponsors. Another opportunity occurs by design in your workplace, where the space is designed to encourage meeting people as you move within the corporate structure.
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There is a tremendous amount of guidance, direction, and strategic vision that we are able to attain from our mentors and sponsors. The time commitment that mentors and sponsors offer is a gift of experience, and should be taken as a sign that calls you to step up to the plate – and own the leader within you.