As I was rising through the corporate ladder, I always aspired to have a place at the table in the board room. A place that would give me a voice to challenge the status quo as well as have my opinion heard. A place that will allow me to contribute to the strategic agenda of the firm.
Getting to the board room is a journey that requires one to keep winning at every stage! Every step counts and at each stage having a Sponsor and a Mentor can positively impact your acceleration.
A mentor coaches and guides you along your journey. You can bounce off ideas of different situations you may be going through including promotions, change of career, disputes at work etc.
Sponsors on the other hand are your allies in the board room when decisions are being made and you are not there to represent yourself. They will fight your corner and convince the other voting members that you deserve to be given a shot at a specific job or opportunity being discussed – that has what it takes!
A sponsor supports you in your absence! I refer to them as ‘your angel in the board room!’
I remember being offered a role as Regional Head of Financial Institutions for the Africa region, a role I did not apply for nor believed I could do. My boss at the time approached me and explained that senior management had discussed and agreed that I should take on the role and that they believed in me, I had what it took to do the job. In disbelief, I reluctantly accepted the role and realized that my boss had recognized the potential in me that I did not see in my self. I had demonstrated through my work that I always got the job done and deliver even bigger jobs across boundaries. I was sponsorable! The rest of this story can be found in Braving the Odds!
Are you sponsorable? As you think about this question, here are some attributes to help you on your journey to become Sponsorable:
1. The power of the right attitude: do you have the right attitude and how do you react when situations work against you. Do you remain supportive? Or you throw in the towel bring negative attitude to work?
2. EQ vs IQ: there is no question about the fact that you have a high IQ, to be serving in your current role means that you are intelligent and hence you are in the right company. The differentiating factor however is your EQ. Do you have a high sense of EQ? Emotional intelligence commonly refered to as EQ has been defined by different scholars as the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and adjust emotions to adapt to environments.
EQ is not commonly found amongst leaders but people with high EQ make better leaders and are usually given more opportunities at leadership positions. Take time to understand your EQ and invest in it.
3. Do you deliver before the expected deadlines or are you a ‘gentle reminder’ type of person? To be sponsorable and claim your place at the table, one cannot afford to be a gentle reminder type of person. This is someone who is constantly reminded to deliver ahead of the deadline otherwise they will miss it and let the whole department down. You should always be that person who works hard to deliver way before time. Be the ‘Mary, as always, has already delivered’ and this is a gentle reminder for the others!’
4. Dare to be different as you claim your place at the table. Always demonstrate that you can be unique but still deliver in the way you work and are happy to challenge and take risks!
5. Finally it’s all about team work! To be sponsorable, one has to learn to work as a team. The board room is not about you but about how you represent the rest of your team. It’s about how you as you rise up you lift up others as well! It’s about knowing that you can not be the only shinning star in team but you that need many stars to light the sky.
Go out and be sponsorable! With these 5 tips, you will have what it take to claim your place at the table!