How to Sponsor and Be Sponsored

Who advocates for you behind closed doors?

Summary
Transcript

In this backstage interview from Leadercast Live 2019, Carla Harris, vice chairman and managing director of Morgan Stanley, shares why leaders must be intentional about building sponsored relationships.

“Sponsorship is, in my opinion, the most important thing that will happen in anybody's career,” says Carla. “Everybody needs a sponsor in order to move up… The sponsor is the person [who] is spending their capital on your behalf behind closed doors. And the fact of the matter is, every major decision about your career is made behind closed doors: your compensation, your promotion and even the new assignments that you get.”

Do you have a sponsor advocating for you behind closed doors? If you’re part of those closed-door conversations, do you have someone for whom you’re advocating? Watch the video to learn more from Carla about how to sponsor and be sponsored.


TAKEAWAYS
- Everyone needs someone who will represent them in meetings.
- Sponsors spend capital on you while mentors offer support.
- Seek to sponsor across different demographics.

Sponsorship is, in my opinion, the most important thing that will happen in anybody's career. And everybody needs a sponsor in order to move up. The mentor is the person that will give it to you straight, no chaser. You can talk to that person about the good, the bad and the ugly. And that person should give you feedback that will help you to improve, or that will support you. But the sponsor is the person that is spending their capital on your behalf behind closed doors.

And the fact of the matter is, every major decision about your career is made behind closed doors: your compensation, your promotion and even the new assignments that you get. And so somebody has to be behind closed doors saying, "No, you know what, we're going to give that to Lauren. You know what, she's worked really hard, she deserves a little bit more. I know it's a tight year, but we got to give her a kiss on this one." And somebody has to say that. If that's not said behind closed doors, it will not happen.

I talk about it so that people can be intentional around asking themselves, "Who's carrying my paper into the room?" And if you can't answer the question, that's your red flag that you should now divert some of your energies into investing in a sponsored relationship.

Folks who are in power today, they each need to think about three people that they think could take their seats, and actually start to build those relationships. And little by little give them some of the things that they're doing in their current role now, so that those folks can cut their teeth on whatever execution that might be. And ask yourself, as a leader in the seat today, what is the demographic of the folks that I am mentoring, and what's the demographic of the folks that I am sponsoring?

And if they all look like you, then you've got to be intentional about switching that. Because it's so easy for it to happen unconsciously, for any of us. And even I had to be intentional, as enlightened as I think that I am, I had to be intentional because I naturally would migrate to somebody who looks like me to sponsor and to mentor, and that's not right either.

Carla Harris

As vice chairman, managing director and senior advisor at Morgan Stanley, Carla is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. In her 30-year career, Carla has had exte...

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