The Difference in Mentors and Sponsors

Mentor WWMB Blog post 600x400 1

[AUGUST 2, 2022 – BLOG] Recently I attended a program about sponsors and mentors hosted by Paradigm for Parity (P4P), an organization that I’m a founding member of, that strives to educate and provide pathways for women to succeed and achieve parity in the workplace. In their research, data shows that women are over mentored and under sponsored which explains why women aren’t moving up the ladder to the C-suite fast enough.

We toss around the term mentor and most do not know the roots of the word, and that it actually means someone advising a younger person. The term “mentor” goes back to Greek mythology. A person by the name of Mentor appeared in Homer’s epic, “The Odyssey.” In old age, Mentor was a close friend of Odysseus, who placed him in responsibility of his son Telemachus, while the hero was away fighting at the Trojan War.

While getting advice from sage counsel is extremely helpful, having a true sponsor is what will make all of the difference. A sponsor takes an active role in your upward movement – clearing away obstacles to help you reach your goals within a set period of time.

When you meet with your sponsor, “own” your vision and goals, and write them down clearly. For example, “In three years, I would like to be the Executive Director of this group.” And be sure to articulate your strengths and “superpowers.”

No matter where we are in our careers, having the right mentors and sponsors at the right time, is critical to reach the next level. I knew this was imperative for me as I reengaged with the art world as a painter.

Rebecca Michelman of Michelman Fine Art in New York was both my mentor and sponsor. She advised me as I was starting to paint again. Her careful critique and the time she spent to understand my process and the skies and land I was painting, was integral to my progress. Then when she thought I was ready, she raised her hand as a sponsor. She recommended me to the New York City gallery owner who bravely gave me my first one-woman art show. Rebecca’s stamp of approval was all I needed. I just had to produce the work that she coached me to create.

Valuable at any life stage, you may be that mentor or sponsor to someone looking for a hand up, or perhaps you need that relationship as you reinvent yourself in areas unknown to you before. Trust me, both sides of this coin are rewarding.

Always seeking sound advice!

Gay Gaddis Signature

Gay Gaddis
Founder. Author. Artist. Trailblazer.

SIGN UP! Receive Gay’s blog posts in your inbox by joining her bi-monthly newsletter.

Recent Posts