This is Part 2 of the series
“Sponsorship: Making a Game Changing Move that was published January 5th in DBP’s D&I newsletter. As a quick recap, I shared that my INTENTION was to help move the needle forward for people of color to attain sponsors. I defined a sponsor as someone that has made a personal and heart connection with a colleague, typically levels below them, and has decided to align their reputation, relationships and acumen to advance the professional and career interests of that person.
My 30+ years of professional consulting experience, corroborated repeatedly by empirical research, indicated that sponsorship remains elusive for people of color. Contributing factors for these challenges are:
- lack of visibility, extended exposure and access to power players;
- personal nature of sponsorship, which is a “personal heart connection”;
- tendency of sponsors to make a “heart connection” with someone who has a shared affinity with them [race, gender, schools, relationships, etc.]; and
- people of colors’ sponsorship attractiveness factor, which translates into their readiness to be emotionally accessible by being more transparent and vulnerable.
Part I, provided the reader homework, utilizing Alignment Strategies’ “3-Step Sponsor Activation Model.” The task was to complete Step 1, ACCESS: “Mindset Change”. This step is the heavy lift, because the focus is on building up your courage to put vision and voice to Sponsorship. Mindset Change is about creating your own mental map to free you up for: getting sponsored, being a sponsor, or encouraging others to sponsor people of color. This often requires a Mindset Change, which is a different mental and emotional preparation. If you completed the Homework, congratulations, you are ready for Step 2 and Step 3. If not, read on, recognizing that you must work through Step 1.
In Part 2, we’ll explore the remaining two steps:
Step 2: Accommodations: Putting Your Mindset in Motion
- Being of Service and Selflessness
- Piloting the Sponsorship You Want
- Empowered Access Moves
Step 3: Actualization: It’s All In The Doing
- Creating Your Personalized Sponsor Action Plan
- Do Your Homework and Enroll Support
- Making A Game Changer Move
Step 2: Accommodations: Putting Your Mindset in Motion
The first two (2) bullets, “Being of Service and Selflessness” and “Piloting the Sponsorship You Want”, suggest that you enhance your sponsorship awareness by first becoming a sponsor yourself. From sponsoring someone else, you learn an invaluable lesson — understanding what motivated you to select that person to sponsor and how the behaviors important for sponsors, make you feel. You will identify what you like and don’t like about a person’s behaviors, so you don’t replicate in your relationship. If you become a sponsor and also focus on the feeling aspect for yourself, you will be more sensitive and better able to replicate that heart-connection in your sponsorship. The other obvious value is that you become a more empowered person, committed to enhancing the engagement of other colleagues in the workplace. You gain bragging rights.
The third bullet, “Empowered Access Moves”, suggests how you INTENTIONALLY increase your visibility and connectedness to potential sponsors, who might not be in your chain of command. This means doing your homework to find out the internal and external community interests of those you would like to be your potential sponsors. It might mean that you will need to volunteer for external projects of interest to the gain visibility and access to potential sponsors. It obviously showcases the impact you have outside your immediate scope of work.
Step 3: Actualization: It’s All in the Doing
I love the Nike phrase, “Just Do It.” Those three words express what it is that is so difficult for most of us, which is to make the time to “Action” on what we want. “Just Do It,” in garnering a sponsor is to be disciplined in being intentional and methodical, in how you acquire a Sponsor.
First, you need to create your Personalized Action Plan, which is a mental roadmap for the what, how and when you are going to take action on getting your sponsor(s). Having a robust action plan requires you to do your homework. This might mean that you speak with colleagues, to ask how they acquire and maintain their sponsors. You might want to determine if there are any formal or informal incentives in your organizations for people to sponsor others. These could also be motivators you can use.
Second, “Do Your Homework” and “Enroll Support”. I have found in my consulting with Alignment Strategies over the last 25+ years, that Multicultural employees often under-utilize involving their immediate supervisor in helping to identify and acquire a sponsor. They often assume that their supervisor would know what is needed and their obligation to act on that knowledge. Yet, supervisors often don’t consider their own personal network in helping to garner a sponsor and therefore, don’t access it when they could easily help set it up.
The same is true for HR/D&I professionals. Often, they have their own personal support network, which they could more easily access. Because they already have the relationships, they can leverage their capital and ask them to sponsor an individual person of color. Imagine the exponential increase and impact if each HR/D&I practitioner just accessed their network for five people of color.
Final step, “Make a Game Changer Move”. Simply put that means putting Steps 1-3, in real-time context. Recognize that gaining a sponsor, for most people is not an over-night step. It could take a couple of years to build a sustainable relationship. I have also seen several situations where it happened almost immediately, but that individual’s personal chemistry was like a magnet.
The rest is up to you. Reach-out and let me know how it’s going.