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Mentorship and Sponsorship: Both Important, Yet Different

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

By Olutayo Sogunro for The Due Influence


In the journey to success, it is important to expand your network and advocate for yourself. Knowledge is power, and it is important to keep learning. One way is to seek help and advice from those more experienced, by searching for a mentor or sponsor.

A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor who gives help to a less experienced individual. Mentoring usually consists of a long-term relationship between a mentor and a mentee. The mentor offers advice, teaching, and support that aids in the development of the individual’s goals. Success does not occur in a vacuum, nor does it occur overnight.

Research conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) found that 85% of women and 81% of multicultural professionals need navigational support to advance in the workplace. However, they receive it less often than men. In a 2010 study by Catalyst, more women were assigned mentors, however, men still received 15% more promotions. By the look of these statistics, there is a missing ingredient.

Many of these men had a sponsor to help their progress. A sponsor is an individual who is in a position of authority that uses their influence to help another advance in their career. Sponsors tend to be senior level staff members that are invested in a protégé as a high-potential employee.

Different from a mentor who advises you as a mentee, a sponsor will advocate for you as a protégé. They promote and endorse a protégé to elevate their status within the organization. In the Catalyst survey, having a mentor at the CEO or senior executive level led to greater compensation and more promotions. Unlike the mentorship relationship, where often times you can ask someone to be your mentor, you cannot ask someone to be your sponsor. A sponsor will recognize your potential and decide to advocate for you on their own.

Some key differences between mentors and sponsors are seen in the diagram below:

Mentorship is a major factor to success, and in combination with sponsorship, makes it a stronger tool for students. Sponsors are fully invested in the advancement of the career of their protégé and help drive their vision forward. They often have power and influence, and are willing to vouch for their protégé. A sponsor can give you an opportunity, or they can even recommend you for a project or promotion.

Working hard and honing your craft will attract sponsors. If you do not already have a mentor, you should start actively looking for one. You can look for one within your school or organization. You can also check out our online educational platform, www.thedueinfluence.com where we have career-specific mentorship opportunities available.


Some additional reading resources:

- https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2019/09/17/understanding-the-impact-of-mentorship-versus-sponsorship/#5d60006840ad

- https://www.ivyexec.com/career-advice/2019/mentor-versus-sponsor-differences-and-how-to-find/


- Olutayo Sogunro


#sponsorship #mentorship

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