By Guest Author, Jennifer Risi, Global Chief Communications Officer & Managing Director, Ogilvy Media Influence --- Ogilvy Public Relations
“Mentors give you perspective. Sponsors give you opportunities.” Cate Huston
The importance of sponsorship
While mentors are essential, women need to make sponsors a requirement to boost their careers. These two roles are often confused but are vastly different.
According to a 2011 Harvard Business Review special report, sponsors give advice, protect, promote, prepare and develop leaders, and they help build one’s reputation.
How to look for a sponsor
Seek powerfully positioned executives and yes you need more than one. It’s important to find those who have the influence to appoint future leaders. Look for a sponsor who will provide critical feedback, will take time to develop you professionally, and is willing to be your advocate.
There are several ways to locate sponsors. Make efforts to broaden your connections in order to widen your selection of influencers.
Your current workplace is an easy target for locating sponsors. Joining an external professional network consisting of influential leaders is also a good opportunity to cultivate relationships. Another option that is not as traditional is joining an advisory board with an organization that shares your passion possibly one your employer is currently involved in.
But it’s not as simple as selecting a sponsor and jump starting your journey. It begins with earning trust, proving you have what it takes through your talent and the willingness to do more than what is expected.
Keep in mind, you may not always share the same values but as long as the sponsors possess the qualities described, it’s all that matters.
Someone who has taken careful consideration to sponsor an individual is expecting results. It is your responsibility to showcase your strengths and take risks. Make it a point to speak up in meetings and presentations. Take credit for, and promote your achievements. Learn new skills and find ways to apply them to your job. Ask for the challenging assignments. Sponsors will take notice and there’s a benefit for them too. Sponsors are acquiring leadership skills, they help retain talent within the organization and they learn to recognize and promote future leaders.
There’s no downside to having a mentor and they are a benefit regardless of where you are in your career. In fact, you may end up with a lifelong friend. But if you find a sponsor who is willing to take a vested interest in your development in order for you to thrive, I urge you to jump at the opportunity.
Ogilvy PR's Elizabeth Carrion contributed to this blog.
Girls and career women are faced with many new challenges today, from the pressure to fit in at school or work to being included and "liked" on social media and in the cyber world.
The "Total Package Girl" is a new interactive book for every girl living through the challenges of growing up in the 21st century.
"This is a guide to help girls and women love themselves be positive, steer clear of negative influences, feel powerful and live a fit, healthy and fun life," author Kristi Hoffman said. "It helps girls build confidence, knowledge and trust in themselves, develop strong communication skills, and create a master plan for living their dreams."
The Total Package Girl has an aura, an essence, a charisma. She seems amazing in a friendly yet irresistible sort of way. Before you get to know her, you observe that everyone likes her and enjoys being near her in a "want to be around her because she is awesome" way.
Many women struggle with assertiveness, but if you’re prone to anxiety and avoidance, it is especially difficult.
While assertiveness is focused on speaking up in a specific situation, our overall ability and willingness to communicate is influenced to a large part by our past relationship experiences, particularly those with our early caregivers. This emotional bond with another person is called an attachment.
Our early attachment relationships provide a template for future relationships. Though of course not guaranteed to dictate behavior, this template guides how we see ourselves, how much we trust others, what strategies we use to manage our emotions, and how confident we are in sharing ourselves. Our attachment style influences our comfort level and skill level when it comes to being assertive.
When you’re assertive, you’re able to communicate your needs and wishes clearly while respecting yourself and anyone else involved in the interaction.
But when you aren’t assertive, you may stop yourself from saying anything when your needs aren’t being met, or end up lashing out in hostile or hurtful ways.
People with different attachment styles struggle with being assertive for different reasons, and even women with a secure attachment style may have difficulty expressing emotion when faced with challenging circumstances.
Whether you’re anxious and overwhelmed by the intensity of your emotions, become avoidant and struggle to identify your emotions, or otherwise have difficulty expressing yourself, “The Assertiveness Guide for Women,” will help you become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings, and empower you to ask for what you need, set boundaries, and speak your truth for a more fulfilling life.
Kaya Singer, author of the book “Wiser and Wilder,” says that success comes to those who focus on being authentic, in the right circle of people, in a balanced and actualized way, with a strong voice.
Her new book is designed to help people ready to walk a soulful path and that manifests their vision with the right people. “Finding your tribe is perhaps one of the most important steps to focus on in business,” she says.
Your tribe is made up of all the people who love your business, products, services, and you. It’s your fans, current and potential customers and clients, and your colleagues. They enjoy hearing what you’re up to, and they spread the word to others about your business. It’s just as true now as it has been down through the ages: women thrive in circles with other women.
Here are seven important key ways to grow your tribe:
Search for Women’s Networking Groups and Business Clubs in your local area.
Do online searches through the social media channels.
Tap in and take advantage of your own networks.
Set up coffee or tea dates with women you meet and feel a connection toward.
Start your own Meet Up group and invite people to come.
Go to a local tea shop or café with your lap top and work from there.
Build a community on social media.
Join groups on social media.
Start your own small Mastermind Group.
Look for ways you can promote others.
Connecting with supportive people not only helps build your business, but it builds real community, plus it helps you to grow personally as an individual; this is particularly helpful if you tend to be more introverted.
Many of today’s up-and-coming, eager professionals are articulate, talented, well-educated and technologically savvy, but many of them are also unaware of the nuances to manage their career and may become labeled as obtuse. They simply lack the political perception and professional skills to get ahead.
Author Jena Abernathy is a passionate advocate for women in executive and governing board roles. Inspiring, down to earth, and straight talking, “THE INEQUALITY EQUALIZER” is the mentoring guide that most of us will wish we had read a long time ago, much earlier in our careers. Abernathy shares her practical, proven real-world techniques to strategize your career, and gain the confidence, know-how, and respect to get results, make winning impressions, and build long-lasting success.
Regardless of how much we might like to think that everyone believes that men and women are equal, the truth is that every woman will face a variety of gender issues throughout her career. Among those challenges is simply getting to the top spot. We see this every day when we witness the dearth of women in leadership positions.
As women, we have to get down to brass tacks and claim what we want. We can’t be afraid of a desire to get ahead, of ambition, or of success.
Maybe it does mean that we have to work harder in general or even harder than men. Resolving gender bias won’t mean that we as women suddenly get to work less hard in order to succeed in business. We’ll still have to work hard and over-deliver, and so will men.
Despite their best efforts, women still face obstacles pursuing a career and being a mother. Unconscious to the many limitations placed on their choices, women still believe that they face a stark choice of either their careers or a happy home.
Aspiring women deserve a solid "heads up."
Women who ascend the corporate ladder are expected to give up, to go up. This is a critical consideration for women with children.
Countless mothers of young children have surprised themselves by creating professional opportunities while they've been home with children. Others have impressed themselves and others when they demonstrate how their organizational abilities at work translate well on the home front, in locating the right support network and helpers to make both work and home function smoothly.
It was Gloria Steinem who said, "I've yet to hear a man ask for advice about how to combine marriage and a career."
“Women and False Choice: The Truth about Sexism,” by Muna Jawhary extends the logical conclusion of gender bias in society to the workplace, and shows how our unconscious sexist beliefs translate into a sexist behavioral reality. Throughout her book, Jawhary suggests powerful ways of creating a healthy work environment that is equally supportive for both sexes.
Leader stereotype leads to two forms of prejudice:
First, women’s potential for being endorsed as leaders is less than men’s, because the male stereotype is closer to the leader stereotype.
Second, women’s actual leadership is evaluated less favourably than men’s, because women’s assertive behavior is perceived as undesirable or threatening, particularly to men.
Women tend to employ democratic leadership styles that allow subordinates to participate in decision making. Generally speaking, women leaders more than men leaders tend to be inclusive and aim for consensus-building. Research also shows that women are more interpersonally oriented than men – more concerned with the welfare of the people they work with and with maintaining good professional relationships.
Compared with men’s directive style, therefore, women’s leadership style can be described as collaborative.
While many experts have explored the challenges of women in leadership, Morgan and Jay focus on solutions; what individuals and organizations can do to actually begin the transformation.
In the last several years, while coaching executive women, we began to see a trend. Organizations wanted to advance women and were trying but not succeeding….mainly due to the feedback input women got from the sources all around them.
Feedback remains treacherous for women.
The Center for Talent Innovation reports:
Women are 32% less likely to receive any feedback from male superiors.
When they do get feedback, 81% of women say they have trouble responding to it, because it’s so “distressingly contradictory.”
However, women have control over their ability to get good feedback. You can educate yourself about how good feedback should work and take the initiative to get it for yourself.
Being unaware, we unconsciously engage our default behavior. Only when we become aware of something, are we able to make choices as to the action we wish to take. Sometimes, just being aware, allows the problem to solve us--rather than requiring us to solve the problem.
For example, self-assessments are research-based quizzes that reveal your attributes. Each assessment will yield different information. Another form of self-assessment is ongoing reflection during the conversations you have with your executive coach and/or mentor.
All you need to succeed is three simple questions:
What’s not working?
What do I need to change?
Ask these questions often and you’ll have an ongoing gauge as to how you’re doing and where to focus your attention.
When you receive feedback and are seen to be acting on that feedback, your stock goes up in the eyes of others.
The research is making increasing clear that when a man faces a hard decision, he needs to make a judgement; when a woman faces a hard decision, she needs to make a judgment and navigate being judged.
Why is it still the case that of the 195 independent countries in the world, only 11.2% of them are run by women?
Drawing on voluminous research and the vivid experiences of women, from diverse industries and backgrounds, author Therese Huston Ph.D unpacks the mechanisms with which women make decisions and the unconscious biases underlying how the world reacts to their choices.
Decision-making, especially at work, is a different process for women. “HOW WOMEN DECIDE” is a remarkable book in that it gives the reader insight into how to improve decision-making skills, creates options, and makes optimal choices.
Women’s Confidence Advantage
Things to remember:
Men and women alike find it hard to believe that they’re average. But compared to women, men tend to think they’re much better than average. The confidence gap is largest on skills that society considers masculine or feminine. Women underestimate their knowledge and abilities on masculine skills, but men still believe they’ll be proficient in skills deemed feminine.
Things to do:
Think of confidence as a dial, something you can turn up or down. You need to keep your confidence turned down when you’re making a decision, when you are weighing your options and need to hear more.
Dial up your confidence when you’ve already make a decision and the task at hand is more about persuading others to accept it and follow you. Pay attention to your body, your self-confidence. To provide a quick injection of confidence, strike a high-power pose or lower the pitch of your voice. To lower your confidence, assume a low-power pose.
If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, please contact the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) at (207) 467-3500 or www.networkadvertising.org.