Sponsor v. Mentor: Verdict👩🏽‍⚖️

Quite frequently, I get questions from younger professionals and sponsors as to who is my mentor. My consistent answer is ‘no one.’

Don’t get me wrong. My answer is borne out of the context in which the question is asked i.e. is there anyone I would typically discuss my career moves with and get steers from or that one person who I go to as an accountability partner in making career decisions or one who inspires me to be a go-getter career wise?

I patiently explain that there is no one person who occupies such a place as mentor in my life. Sure, I frequently bounce ideas off le hubz – after all what is he a life partner for if I can’t do so😁 But in terms of that formal person high up the ladder who I ask before taking steps – there’s none. I tell those who inquire that professionally, so many people inspire me so I prefer to just glean bits and pieces from different persons as opposed to one mentor to make up the unique me. And most times, I even do this from a distance. Of course, if I need to ask questions before making a move, I do so.

For me, I would choose a career sponsor over a mentor time and time again. Perhaps, you wonder, is there any difference between the two? There is.

A mentor advises the mentee; while the sponsor advocates for the career advancement of the protege. You see, a mentor tells you, do X, don’t do Y while a sponsor makes a case for you to be given X or Y at closed-door executive meetings where you are too far down the ladder to speak for self.

For me, a mentor does quite some talking while the sponsor acts on your behalf with fewer words. Sure, you’ve heard the truism that action speaks louder than words right? That right there is what a sponsor (not a mentor) does.

Of course, if you are extremely fortunate, you may have your sponsor + mentor embodied in one person. But if I were to pick one, I would definitely pick a sponsor over a mentor.

Sponsors have been responsible for my rapid career progression and in fact beyond my skills, it was sponsors that played a huge role in landing my current gig. And while there, other sponsors again make my landing soft, smooth and seamless.

Sponsors definitely trump mentors for me.

Best,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com

Don’t Burn Bridges

‘Hey! I don’t need this bridge no more, so who cares if it goes up in blazes!’ You say…

But not too fast, who says never say never, huh!

Granted, we cannot say ‘yes’ to everyone and everything at the same time – it’s why there is such a thing as opportunity cost in economics. But then, we can say ‘no’ without making enemies – it’s why there is such a thing called emotional intelligence.

At a point in time, I had two job opportunities – both great opportunities by the way – a dream come true for most. But here’s the snag, I couldn’t take up both opportunities at the same time; I had to disappoint one organisation. Here was my dilemma – how to say ‘no’ without making enemies.

Of course, I could just say ‘no’ and move on. But because I knew I may be needing the rejected one later in life, I had to be creative about how I said the ‘no’ so it did not become a personal vendetta.

The thing is, in this thing called life, you often cannot get divorced from having a roller coaster ride or coming back full circle even at the most inopportune times. Hence, wisdom is key.

I kid you not, I spent a number of sleepless nights ruminating on how to say this ‘no’ even engaging with about three very senior persons in the know and of course my personal ‘yard’ people on how to go about it.

In the end, the ‘no’ was said – feelings were hurt and maybe one or two silent enemies made. But then, I tried to say the ‘no’ in such a way that there were very viable reasons behind the ‘no’ which could not be faulted. I also retained many of my senior friends in the process.

Kinda reminds me of when I need to say ‘no’ to le hubs. I mean I could very easily tell him to go to hell, but then ‘who e epp’ when he gets pissed? So I often think of how to couch my ‘no’ in a way that doesn’t alienate him – which in turn also impresses on him the manner in which to tell me ‘no’ in a respectful way.

You see in this life, choose your battles; don’t burn bridges if you can help it. Emotional intelligence is key and wisdom is supreme!

Cheerio,

Hugs,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com