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Sponsors wear your T-shirt in a meeting you're not in

Sun 26 February 2012

, LEAP redaktie,

Frieda Klotz, journalist, author and blogger for spoke to Nicky Gilmour — the founder of  The Glass Hammer – about the usefulness of mentoring, and she explained why one version of it, called sponsorship, has been shown to work. “A mentor might tell you generic advice,” Gilmour said. “A sponsor will advocate on your behalf to help secure work projects that will be more likely to help you advance. Sponsors generally wear your T-shirt in a meeting you’re not in.” Crucially the sponsor is someone who wields power in your firm.

It’s important to understand that men and women are equally effective sponsors. “If you look at the power dynamics in organizational life, then if the people holding power are men, women would be not doing themselves justice if they were to choose just women as sponsors.”

Gilmour, who at 37 is part of Generation X, says that this generation has had particular problems in the workplace. “Gen X woman have it tough. We were told to play nice in the sandbox and good things would happen in our careers. We didn’t read the book, ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office.’”

We’ve been the generation who’ve had to figure it out as we go. And so as we go up the ranks, we’re looking around and wondering what our options are and who we can rely on as sponsors. It’s an ongoing process to understand how to navigate our careers as Generation X.”

Gilmour calls Gen X the Sandwich Generation. Looking to older people doesn’t always offer an answer. Yet looking behind us at Gen Y can be unsettling as well. “We also feel that the generation beneath us perhaps has much more freedom in expressing their discontentment around workplace.”

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