An executive sponsor can be a critical ally in your career, providing support, guidance, and access to opportunities that can help you achieve your professional goals. In her TED Talk, “How to find the person who can help you get ahead at work,” Carla Harris offers some practical tips for finding an executive sponsor.
First and foremost, Harris emphasizes the importance of building relationships. Your executive sponsor should be someone you trust and respect, and whom you feel comfortable approaching for advice and support.
“The people who are going to be your sponsors are the people who know you, like you, and respect you,” Harris says.
This means taking the time to get to know people within your organization, and building a strong network of connections.
Harris also advises being proactive in seeking out potential sponsors. This can involve identifying leaders within the organization who align with your values and career goals and then approaching them to see if they might be willing to serve as a sponsor. It’s important to be clear about your expectations and to make it clear that you are willing to put in the work to make the relationship a success.
Why Do you Need an Executive Sponsor?
Here are a few reasons why everyone can benefit from having an executive sponsor:
- An executive sponsor can advocate for you: An executive sponsor can serve as a powerful advocate for you within the organization. They can speak up on your behalf, recommending you for promotions or other opportunities, and help to raise your profile within the company.
- An executive sponsor can open doors: An executive sponsor can introduce you to key decision-makers and help you to build relationships with other influential people within the organization. This can give you access to opportunities that might not have been available to you otherwise.
- An executive sponsor can provide guidance: An executive sponsor can offer valuable advice and guidance as you navigate your career. They can help you to set goals, develop a career plan, and provide feedback on your progress.
- An executive sponsor can be a mentor: An executive sponsor can serve as a mentor, providing support and guidance as you develop your skills and expertise. They can offer valuable insights and perspectives, based on their own experiences and successes.
It’s also essential to be proactive in maintaining your relationship with your executive sponsor. This means staying in touch, keeping them updated on your progress and accomplishments, and being open to their feedback and guidance. By doing this, you can build a strong, mutually beneficial relationship that can help you to advance your career.
In addition to following Harris’ advice, it can also be helpful to seek out resources that can teach you more about how to find and cultivate an executive sponsor. One book that may be particularly helpful is “The Mentee’s Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You” by Zachary, Lois J. This book offers practical strategies for finding and working with a mentor or sponsor and can provide valuable insights for anyone looking to build a successful career.
How to Choose an Executive Sponsor
Picking an executive sponsor can be an important step in advancing your career. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right person:
- Look for someone who is aligned with your values and career goals: It’s important to choose an executive sponsor who shares your values and is supportive of your career aspirations. This will help ensure that you have a strong, mutually beneficial relationship.
- Consider their level of influence: An executive sponsor should be someone who has influence within the organization and can help open doors for you. Look for someone who has a strong network of connections and is respected by their peers.
- Look for someone who is willing to commit: Your executive sponsor should be someone who is willing to commit to the relationship and invest the time and energy necessary to help you succeed.
- Consider their communication style: It’s important to choose an executive sponsor who is a good communicator and whom you feel comfortable approaching for advice and feedback.
- Don’t be afraid to ask: If you’re interested in working with a particular person as your executive sponsor, don’t be afraid to ask them directly. It’s important to be clear about your expectations and to make it clear that you are willing to put in the work to make the relationship a success.
Having an executive sponsor can be a valuable asset for anyone looking to advance their career. An executive sponsor can be a powerful force for good in your career, providing access to new opportunities, support and guidance, and a sounding board for your ideas. By building relationships, being proactive, and maintaining regular communication, you can find and cultivate a strong executive sponsor who can help you to reach your full potential.