Books: Going Beyond MentoringBy
True leadership involves partnering with junior employees to help build their skills and advocate for them.
The Sponsor Effect: How to Be a Better Leader by Investing in Others by Sylvia Ann Hewlett offers a model that positions sponsorship as mutually beneficial mentorship with advocacy. Hewlett equates successful sponsorship with effective leadership, describing it as a way to inspire and encourage employees to strive to improve their skills and give their best effort.
The importance of having a sponsor, akin to a mentor and advocate, is widely accepted, and Hewlett’s book highlights the benefits for both the sponsor and trainee. Hewlett asserts her position through various case studies that elaborate on the many benefits of sponsorship, ranging from the creation of a loyal professional network, legacy building, business expansion, and overall well-being of the company’s personnel. To be successful, it’s important for a good leader to find junior talent and invest in their professional development as a sponsor. This assures a curated group of individuals who can inspire others to believe in the company’s mission and follow the leader’s example. Hewlett hopes the book inspires women, in particular, to become sponsors, as she believes that female sponsors can help other women attain leadership positions.
Highlighting the importance of a well-executed sponsor match, Hewlett moves on to defining success: establishing a mutually beneficial professional relationship. She offers a detailed playbook for successful sponsorship, providing a guide to help leaders select junior talent for sponsoring and create a meaningful plan that’s beneficial for both the sponsor and the prospect. Emphasizing flexibility and diverse perspectives, Hewlett explains how to assess the impact and effectiveness of the match and how to inspire and influence the mentee. The various steps of the sponsorship process include identifying the potential prospect, inspiring them to acquire new skills, winning their loyalty, supplementing their education to fill any knowledge gaps they may have, and serving as their cheerleader and career coach.
Hewlett encourages people to be cognizant of potential pitfalls, from scheduling issues to inappropriate conduct, but advises readers not to let them deter sponsorship and succession planning. Her structured approach and practical explanations of concepts make this book an interesting and practical read for management accounting and finance professionals.