Sponsor Ready

Cover image for Sponsor Ready

Women and people of color, even when equally or more qualified, aren’t moving up the career ladder with the same velocity or at the same rate as white men. Ultimately, it’s not a problem of race or gender or even access. It’s a problem of power. This Program—built in partnership with Coqual and Hewlett Consulting Partners—positions sponsorship as a key method for navigating the complex power dynamics of the modern corporation and helps individuals as well as organizations understand its power.

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Program Overview

The Sponsor Ready Program will help you discover real ways to gain power and influence, and what to do once you have them.

At first blush, it may feel distasteful or transactional. But if you look closely at who has historically gotten promoted (and by whom) across a range of industries, you’ll find it’s rarely simply the people who worked the hardest or who merited it most. Sponsorship—whether spoken or unspoken—has been at the root of promotions and deal brokering since the beginning of business. Sponsorship is real and it’s not going anywhere.

Sponsorship doesn’t have to be limited to a few elites. Sponsorship, although tricky to navigate, isn’t impossible to figure out. And, it’s a game changer for both individuals and the organizations where they work.

This Program aims to help you and your organization:

  • Discuss what diversity really means within your global organization
  • Reflect on your own “sponsor readiness” as sponsors, protégés, and organizations
  • Identify skill gaps and unique strengths
  • Learn the tools to cultivate sponsor relationships
  • Build cultures of sponsorship across your organization
Key Questions

How does power and influence work within organizations?

What is sponsorship? And how is it different from mentorship, good management, and coaching?

Why is sponsorship good for organizations?

How do I know who the right sponsors might be? How do I approach them?

How do sponsors think? How can understanding that help me be a better protégé?

What are the barriers to having an authentic culture of sponsorship?

Field Manuals

The Sponsor Ready Program is made up of 5 Field Manuals (our version of an online module). Each one contains a variety of types of content and social exercises culminating in a mini-project, reflection, or debate. Each Field Manual will take you between 30-45 minutes to complete but you can jump on and off at your own pace, as often as you’d like. The deeper learning happens in the discussions with your fellow learners so be sure to check in on the conversations regularly.

  • The Challenge

    This first Field Manual positions sponsorship as the key method for navigating the complex (and often hidden) power dynamics of the modern organization. It points out that sponsorship is not the same as mentorship, although both are important. It gets learners thinking about what sponsorship is and why it matters.

  • Readiness

    This Field Manual focuses on the individual and what it takes to be ready for sponsorship. It asks learners to think critically about their own leadership potential and to take stock of how they can stand out among the pack. It aims to make that elusive X factor known as “executive presence” more tangible and inspire individuals to exude it.

  • Engagement

    This Field Manual has a focus on relationships. It dives deeply into relationship capital and influence, looking at how they work both within an organizational context and between individuals. Learners map their networks and learn the importance of aligning their strengths and career aspirations with the needs of the business and key individuals.

  • Deepening

    The Field Manual is about deepening the sponsor-protégé relationship. It discusses reciprocity and loyalty in the sponsor-protégé pairing and helps learners think about what it means to be a sponsor. It also outlines what these relationships look like over time.

  • Culture

    This final Field Manual focuses on how to sustain sponsorship over time. It discusses the importance of building a culture of sponsorship within organizations, and offers tips on how and why to do so—as both individuals and organizations.

Featured Voices
  • Sylvia Ann Hewlett

    economist, consultant, lecturer, expert on gender and workplace issues and founder of Coqual

  • Sonelius Kendrick-Smith

    Director, Deutsche Bank

  • Yang Lan

    media proprietor, journalist, talk show host and co-founder and chairperson of the Sun Media Group and the Sun Culture Foundation

  • Ursula Burns

    Former CEO and Chairwoman, Xerox

An excerpt from the Program

If you look at who has historically gotten promoted and by whom, you’ll find that it is about more than working hard or being lucky. Check out this animation to learn more.