You know the benefits of having a sponsor. You understand how great it is to have someone else advocate on your behalf. But why wait for someone else to speak up for you when you can do it yourself?
Not only are you your own best sponsor but it is your responsibility as a senior leader. When you can demonstrate to other leaders that you take your own professional development seriously, that your long-term goals are clear, that you can confidently articulate your leadership style, that you are wiling to speak up in challenging situations --- then they will trust that you can lead at that higher level. And you will get promoted.
On today's episode, I am going to show you exactly how you can begin advocating for yourself in a way that feels easy and sustainable. I'll break down how to speak up so that you don't sound pushy or ego driven. And you'll know how to evaluate your progress along the way.
The good news is that all of this can be done even during this time of uncertainty and significant change at your organization.
I'm offering a free Live webinar on "How the Biggest Career Jumps are Made During Times of Crisis." If you want to develop the skills I teach you on my podcast so that you can finally get the recognition you deserve, sign up at stacymayer.com/crisiswebinar and learn how. There are limited spots, so don't hesitate to sign up.
What You'll Learn:
- Why offering solutions to problems is not being pushy
- How only delivering status updates at your weekly 1on1s actually hurts your chances of getting a future promotion
- Why it's actually part of your job at the senior leadership level to speak up and ask for what you want
- How to keep your ego out of the conversation
- A simple, easy to follow process that you can begin this week
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Leadership is a learned skill. Welcome to episode number 23. In today's episode, I'm going to show you exactly step by step in the simplest of ways that you can start becoming your own best sponsor. Listen on.
Welcome to Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, a podcast about achieving your career goals while also being yourself.
Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career, I'm your host, Stacy Mayor, super excited, as always, to be here with you this evening as I'm recording this podcast. Before we get started, I want to talk about my podcast episode from last week, Redefining Success during the Pandemic, a conversation with three senior leaders. And I have been listening to this episode. I probably at least a dozen times since I recorded it, and not just because I'm editing it, but because I am just so incredibly proud of this episode. In this episode, I interview three clients that I have been working with for over six months, some of them I've been working with for almost a year. And so I've really gotten to know them and challenge them in ways that even they didn't even expect when they first signed up for coaching. And as soon as this crisis hit, as soon as things started happening, I noticed a higher level of leadership coming out of each and every one of them in the way that they were showing up at their organization, in the way that they were speaking up about what they were seeing in the way that they were coming up with ideas and problem solving and decision making. All of these high performance leadership traits just started pouring out of them. And I just really wanted to use this platform as an opportunity to celebrate everything that they have done. So if you haven't already after you listen to this episode, go back and listen to episode number 22, where I interview three of my clients.
And it is just an absolutely incredible interview. I know that you will enjoy it and be super inspired yourself. And after you listen to it, I would love to hear from you. You can leave a review on iTunes by just scrolling down on your screen and popping in and leave me some stars, leave me a review, because this tells more people what to expect out of this podcast. And as you know, my mission is to get more and more talented professionals promoted into senior leadership positions. That includes you, but it also includes the people who are searching for answers on the Internet. And so I want them to be able to find this resource, my podcast, and you can help me do that. So please, I really encourage you to share your thoughts about the podcast so that others can benefit. And also so I can know that you're benefiting as well. Speaking of speaking up, I am going to talk to you guys a little bit about that today. So today's episode is titled Becoming Your Own Best Sponsor. What do I mean by that? You are the best person who can speak up about your abilities, about what you enjoy, about your leadership style, about what you want to see more of your organization, about the solutions that you have to problems.
Before I get into all of that, I want to first describe to you what I mean by sponsor. I think a lot of you understand what a sponsor is, but some of you might not know my personal definition. And so I want to lay that out for you first and then we'll get into the ways that you can, in fact, become your own best sponsor. So the first thing I want to point out is the difference between a mentor and a sponsor. And I think that'll give you the definition of what an actual sponsor is. So a mentor is somebody that you go to for advice. Hopefully you have several of these in your network. If you don't, you can listen to my earlier episode, how to build your own personal board of directors. It includes how to get mentors for you. So that's that's mentors as people that you come to for advice. But they're not necessarily people who are going to help you get that next promotion. A sponsor, on the other hand, is somebody that can actually help you get promoted. So they have some influence at your organization. They have some influence in your career. So generally, that is your boss. It could be someone on the leadership team. It could be somebody else within the organization that has a lot of influence. And I highly recommend that you have at least a couple of sponsors, people who can really influence your career.
But what I wanted to point out there is that when I talk about becoming your own best sponsor. It's that you are your best advocate for your career advancement, and if you start to think of yourself as your own sponsor, then you'll realize the the just the brevity of responsibility that that is that in order for you to make it into senior level leadership position, you have to you have to develop the skill of speaking up about your own abilities, about offering solutions to problems, about sharing with your boss, your own professional development goals and not waiting to be asked. So I just want you to start really thinking about this. Use this as a mantra over the next few weeks. I am my own best sponsor and see if that triggers you into action. Now, as I get into this episode, I just also want to point out why it is so important for you to advocate for yourself and to actually speak up about all of these different things that you want or need. It is because quite simply, what got you here won't get you there. So up until this point in your career, your work has spoken for itself. So if you are in an individual contributor role, it was all about deadlines. Did you meet those deadlines? Maybe you moved into project management. It was still about deadlines. Did your team meet those deadlines? It's about getting called on in the middle of the night.
I need you to solve this big problem. It's definitely about waiting to be told what to do. You can offer some solutions to the problems, but it's not about you coming up with these big ideas. And quite frankly, it's not about you talking about your best fit. Your best fit is your knowledge your best fit up until a certain point is just like, what do you know and what problems can you help solve for the organization? But that doesn't cut it anymore. Once you get into higher level senior leadership roles, once you get into a director level, depending on the type of organization that you work for. But once you get into where you're managing other managers, it's super. It's not just super important, but it's it's like critical. That you be able to articulate your own abilities, your own weaknesses, your challenges, that you're having regular conversations about your best fit, about what you do well, what you want to be inspired by, what's inspiring you offering solutions to much bigger problems and most importantly, not waiting to be asked, not waiting to be asked. You know what, Jim? What do you want out of your career? Oh, I'm not sure. Let me get back to you know, that does not cut it at the vice president level. And so I encourage everyone who's listening. Once you get into management, it is so important that you start developing the skill.
You don't want to wait until you get into that higher level role and then think, oh, gosh, I need to be just as proactive about my career development as I am about my team hitting their deadlines. So that's why I'm offering you these skills so that even if you are in the early stages of management, you can start shifting this behavior that's going to be critical to your job performance at the higher levels. And if you're already at the higher levels, but you're noticing that you're not really getting the projects that you want, you're not yet making the impact that you want to be making at your organization. It's because of this one thing that you're not able to speak up in a way that actually enlists trust with the organization. So they need to be able to trust you, that you can lead the organization at that higher level. And one of the ways that they can start trusting you is if you're taking your own professional development seriously, if you can lead your own career development path and you can lead other people, you can lead at that higher level. So if it's that simple, you just have to speak up. Tell your boss what you want out of your career, then why aren't you doing it? And there are three main reasons that I'm going to give you right now as to why I think and what I've seen from other managers as to why they're not doing it.
And the first thing is, you know, quite simply, you didn't know the importance of it. You didn't know that you weren't doing it. At some point your career just happened. And all of a sudden you're 40 years old and you're like, whoa, OK, it's time that I start taking this thing called my career seriously. And it's not just about do I like like is my seat comfortable meeting? Like, do I like my commute? Do I like my job? Do I like my boss, those types of things. But it's more about like, what is it that you really want to get out of your career? So, you know, I can't blame you for that. You just never really thought about it. You didn't know that it was important. Or maybe you're the type of person that knows that it's important but doesn't actually know the skill set to do it stealthily. So I'm going to give you another podcast episode to listen to. And it's called The Dance of Advocating for Yourself. Like I said, I'm a link to all of the stuff in the show notes. But you can scroll through my podcast feed and find this episode. In that episode, I'm going to talk about that intricate dance that is, in fact, advocating for yourself. So. Maybe you just don't know how to do it, maybe you know that it's important, but you don't really know how to find that balance.
How do I speak up? How do I speak up, especially during a crisis when I've just laid off half of my team or we're going through so many changes or everybody's in the weeds. And my manager most definitely doesn't want to hear about my own professional development. There is a way to do this so that other people can hear you, but not only just hear you, but they can advocate on your behalf. And the third reason why you might not be your own best sponsor right now is simply because you've gotten screwed over in the past. So let's say you had some bad experiences with your boss or bad experiences speaking up where it felt like it was all ego driven. So you were like, I really don't want to do that. So I'm just going to be like, you know what? I need a raise or I need a promotion and I'm going to walk into my boss's office. And then they just kind of look at you like, what? And it just falls flat and you feel like you got burned. They're like, oh, yeah, you're doing great. But, you know, just keep doing what you're doing. And the promotion cycle is in six months and, you know, we'll all circle back with you and I'll think about it and I'll let you know. And then you just kind of go back to your desk and you think, oh, that didn't work out, that didn't feel good.
So I'm never going to do that again. So if you're one of those types of people, it's OK. It's totally normal. It happens to us. It happens to the best of us. But let me tell you, this is not that approach is not actually the approach that I'm going to show you today, the approach that is becoming your own best sponsor. So when I am thinking about a sponsor and I'm thinking about somebody that I really trust in the organization, somebody that I just feel like has my back, that they they would go to the end of the earth for me. And that just feels really good. And if you don't have that person who really advocates for you, then that's OK. You can find that person. And there's a whole set of skills to go out there and do that to find those people. And I, I think it's it's I said it's OK, but it's not OK. You need to go do it right. But don't beat yourself up about it. But in terms of being your own sponsor, that person that just has your own back, that trust that you can do the work, that trust that you understand the vision for your organization that really cares about the impact that you're going to make. When I put it that way, does it sound ego driven? Does it sound like something like you? All you want to do is get ahead in your company and you don't really care about anybody? Know, the people who are listening to my podcasts are not those ego driven people.
If you were, you wouldn't be looking for what I'm offering, because you know that what I'm offering is true and authentic and everything that is going to come out of your mouth is going to come from a pure place of genuinely wanting to serve the organization at a higher level. If you are somebody that hates using I language or hates talking about what you've done and and all of the great experiences that you've had, and you just feel like it just like it goes against my value system, it's it's something that I just don't do. I get it. But let me tell you, by you not doing it, you are not serving your organization at the higher level. So if you can't do it for yourself and for what it will actually give you and benefit you in your career, then do it for other people. Do it for your organization. Having you in a higher level leadership position, I am telling you, is going to benefit them to no end having other leaders in the organization look up to you. Having them used you as a role model, having them think about you and what you've been doing and really see you shine and want to work on your team because you are their best boss, having you as their best boss.
Is going to benefit other people, so, again, if you can't advocate for yourself, for yourself, do it for all of the people that you're helping. So as I've already told you, my approach to becoming your own best sponsor is not pushy. It is not pushy to let other people know what your ideas are, what you are seeing in the organization. It is not pushy to speak up when you see that there's a problem. It is not pushy to notice something that you do really, really well and want to do more of that. These are not pushy things. Now, I used to think this way all the time. I used to think that other people were better at speaking up on my behalf than I was one of the really amazing things that happened to me in my theater career. So if you didn't know I was an actress for many, many years and I, I took a one woman show to Scotland and one of the friends that went with me on this tour for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is like a really big theatre festival that I took my show to. He loved my show. He loved me as a performer and talk about a sponsor. He would walk around all day long telling people how amazing I was and how great I was.
And I remember him talking about me in this way and me just thinking, OK, I'm glad I have him because I couldn't do any of this. And I realize now that that is absolutely absurd. So here's what I mean by that. I am not telling you that I want you to go around and be like, oh, my God, I am so amazing. Look at all of these amazing things that I do, because I think that that is what honestly what you think I'm telling you to do is that you just walk around telling people all day long how great you are. No, that is not what I'm telling you to do. Yes. Let other people do that. And when people say how great you are, I want you to just respond and say thank you. Thank you for that. I appreciate that. But what I am telling you to do is way, way simpler than that. It's so much easier than that. So here is the process that you can actually implement this week. All right. Here we go. Step number one, I want you to think about something that you have been given throughout this crisis, some level of responsibility that you have been given that you actually enjoy. So something that is going well that you didn't get to do before, that is fun for you. That feels like it's challenging for you step number to schedule a meeting with your boss.
So if you don't already have regular one on ones with your boss, get on your boss's calendar and get an for a one on one. Now, I'm assuming that most of your one on ones are usually just task updates. So you just go through all of the different things that you're working on. And if it's not, then congratulations, though. You're one of the select few that's able to consistently speak about the big picture. That's that's our goal. That's where we're headed with all of this. But what I'm going to challenge you to do is to actually tell your boss that you want to talk about something different and so make sure you let them know I have something I want to talk to you about rather than just thinking, OK, I'm just going to tack this on at the end of the conversation. And that's another thing that you'll fall short and you won't be able to become your own best sponsor because you'll just be throwing it in at the end of the conversation. So you're going to schedule the conversation with your boss. You're going to let her know that you want to actually talk to her about some of the bigger projects that you've been working on or something like that, like so that you're actually planting the seed that you want to talk about something bigger. Then when you get in, I want you to tell your boss about those things that you learned in step number one, that you're actually enjoying doing that are fun for you, those projects that you're taking on now that are really enjoyable.
And then step number three, I want you to tie it in with your big goal. So I want you to say something like this really aligns with my goal to become vice president someday, because I feel like if I'm working on cross-cultural projects or more collaborative projects, then it is definitely an essential skill that I will need once I make it to that level. So now you're having this conversation very genuinely, very openly about what you're enjoying doing right now because of this crisis, the responsibilities that it's bringing out of you, and then you're going to move into how that ties into your bigger goal. So that's it. It's quite simple. It's not bragging. It's not boastful. I want you to do this and check in with yourself. Ask yourself, how did it go? Give yourself an evaluation. What felt awkward? What do I want to do different next time? What did I really enjoy? What did I learn about myself? And then rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. We're going to do this over and over and over again with various different people in various different ways. That's the skill. That's the learning. And that's the way that you're going to do it over and over and over again.
You're just going to make it part of your leadership. It's going to become part of your leadership style. I am telling you that if you start doing this, even in the smallest of ways, you will so quickly be able to move in to making a bigger impact of your organization. Right now, you are going to get better projects. You're going to get more respect. You're going to start building trust with the leadership team that you can lead that higher level. And you know what comes next? A promotion and more money. You get to make a bigger influence at your organization and you get rewarded for it in the end. So I challenge you to do this very simple, small challenge this week. Don't think about it too much. Don't overthink it. Just do it. And see how it goes. Thank you so much for listening and have a wonderful week. Take care. Bye. Before you go, I want to share with you a very special opportunity to take this work that you've learned today. One step deeper. I am offering a series of free, live, interactive webinars called How the biggest career jumps are made during times of crisis. I'll share with you exactly how you can become your own best sponsor and other ways that you can leverage your career. Even during this time. Sign up for free at Stacie Mayer dot com crisis webinar. That's Stacy. Why May why are Dotcom Crisis Webinar? I'll see you there by.
About Your Host
Hi, I’m Stacy Mayer, a Leadership Coach for emerging executives who are ready to take their career to the next level or seeking more fulfillment in their current organizational roles.
I help corporate managers reposition themselves to advance their careers, build confidence in their ability to solve problems in real-time, and step into their higher leadership potential so they can make a bigger impact in their organizations.