Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 143 – What Do Your Team Members Need? A Sponsor, A Coach Or A Mentor?

Dear leaders, over the last year I have spent a large percentage of my time as a coach for CEOs, COOs, CMOs, VPs and a Product lead and separately as a mentor and as an external sponsor. 

I am a huge component of having or finding the right level of support, whether that’s a mentor, a coach or acting as a sponsor. (I wrote about the difference in detail last year) Something most managers forget is it’s not either or, it is often a mix of the three or in some respects, it’s all three. 

The TLDR Read Of What The Difference Is:  

  • Mentors are typically free, a senior member of the team or another business who has held a similar role and donates their time and energy to help guide you or your team member
  • Sponsors are internal (and sometimes external) and help to promote and champion their team members or a member of staff who has the ability to go further and recommends them or pushes them forward for big projects and opportunities and add their clout behind them
  • Coaches are paid for professionals and specialists who will help improve the skills of their coachees and should have dates for goals. 

Most senior leaders support their team members by acting as a sponsor, some will find their team mentors (often from their own network or from word-of-mouth referrals) or help guide them towards a mentor and then others will approve coaching over conferences and generic training. 

What are you doing for your team members?
Or what can you do to improve your connection and improve the sub culture of your org? 

Ways You Can Support Team Members Or Yourself 

  • Act as a mentor – mentorship is a time commitment and is an honour, support team members or supporting non-team members will help you and their career. 
    • Remember reverse mentoring is also a great way to connect and learn about core subjects, one of the best examples I have heard was from a friend who reversed mentored a well known sports company CEO and helped guide them with Marketing and new channels (30 minutes every two weeks made the difference for her and exposure to the c-suite and for the CEO to learn about essential trends and apps they wouldn’t make the time for otherwise) 
  • Act a formal sponsor – do you have someone in your department or within your business who hasn’t been given the opportunity to progress and you can add your weight behind them.
    Remember you can benefit from this and you can be negatively impacted if the opportunity isn’t seized. If you act as a sponsor don’t just push them forward, support your colleague and check in with them 
  • Become a coach – I know you are likely particularly busy and time-constrained, however, coaching is a great way to expand your career, expand your knowledge of other businesses and a way to build another income (or fund a passion project) 

This week, consider finding yourself a coach (there are many of us who really do help you develop) and help your team find the right mentor and coach (where budget applies) and consider how you can go deeper as a sponsor internally and champion them to the business. 

Thanks and have a great week,

Danny Denhard

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