What's the difference between a Mentor and a Sponsor?

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You’ve heard of Sponsorship but are unsure how it differs from having a Mentor. Here’s a quick rundown…

Who are Mentors and who are Sponsors?

  • Mentors are found at all levels of the organization
  • Sponsors are senior members of the organization who have great influence among decision makers
  • You often feel a personal affinity toward your mentor
  • You may not be personally drawn to your sponsor
  • You enjoy spending time with your mentor
  • You may see your sponsorship as a business alliance rather than a personal relationship

What do Mentors and Sponsors do?

  • Mentors typically do not disclose details of your relationship
  • Sponsors talk about you to others a great deal
  • Mentors informally advise you on all work topics
  • Sponsors advocate for you to be promoted to other decision makers in the organization

What is the relationship like?

  • Mentors show you the ropes
  • Sponsors expect you to already be a star performer
  • Mentorship is a one-way street
  • Sponsorship is a two-way relationship
  • Mentors respond to your questions about career growth
  • Sponsors suggest paths for your career growth
  • Mentors enjoy helping you
  • Sponsors professionally benefit from having you in their network

What are your responsibilities?

  • You owe your mentor thanks
  • You owe your sponsor loyalty and assistance
  • You tap mentors at your convenience
  • You keep your sponsor regularly informed of your progress
  • You take or leave your mentor’s advice
  • You take your sponsor’s advice unless there's a serious issue
  • You can have several mentors
  • You should be loyal to just one or two sponsors

Everyone can benefit from mentors and sponsors. Strategize ways to have both in your network to ensure your utmost professional growth.