Mentor/Sponsor/coach/counsellor/networker – which is it to be?

I love reading the mentor interview in the McCarthy Mentoring newsletter. There is always a new idea or different nuance about the mentoring experience and it always informs my own mentoring practice. So often I am reminded of how to be a better mentor.
I read Liz Cacciotolo’s comments with interest as she reflects on the relative values of sponsors and mentors. In my own career people I often describe as mentors were really sponsors in that they paraphrased the culture, identified opportunities and encouraged me to take risks across the professional silos. I remain eternally grateful to them
HBR regularly publishes articles about the relative merits of sponsorship and mentoring. In a recent one 11/ 2011 sponsors were described as turbocharged mentors who offer guidance but also advocate for you by suggesting you for a promotion, calling in favours, or connecting you with other leaders. It requires performance and loyalty from the mentee/protégé.
Sponsorship is the preferred relationship in the USA and when creating the mentoring practice 15 years ago I was fascinated to observe how culturally based mentoring and sponsorship were. The British and European models were more focussed on external mentors and coaches so true to the Australian I went with the hybrid approach and encouraged networking as part of the relationship.

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