How Can a Mentor Accelerate Women in Leadership?

I am at the Sundance Resort not too far outside of Park City, and I just feel so blessed! It was, first of all, originally owned and built by Robert Redford. And although he sold it a few years ago, you can still feel some of that kind of old Hollywood vibe running through it, combined with these spectacular mountains, you might even hear the water running in the background of my video.

I’m excited because we’re going to be taking a chair lift up to do a hike later today. But the reason why I’m here is I’m spending two days with my mentor. And we often talk at The Corporate Refinery about how a mistake that organizations sometimes make is that women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. However, one of the best ways for women to gain sponsorship is through mentorship. So if you as an organization really want to accelerate women into those more senior roles, first of all, you’ve got to establish a formal mentoring program. Now if you don’t, here’s your opportunity to do so.

And for leaders, if you don’t have that formal mentoring program, you can start to educate your women especially, but all employees, about the importance of having mentors. Of course externally, but internally in order to gain sponsorships. Now, the other little thing I’m going to add is that my sponsor is male. I intentionally have a male mentor when it comes to storytelling and stage presentation, for me to really deliver strong keynotes. And that’s the little fine-tuned thing that I want to encourage organizations that if you’re really, truly wanting to accelerate women in leadership, you’ve got to set the stage and encourage male mentorship, which could convert to male sponsorship.

There are a couple of reasons why. First of all, males tend to hold more of the senior leadership roles, more in the C-suite. So who better to provide the mentorship, the advice, the support for women who are wanting to go down that same path, along that same journey? Secondly, if they convert to a sponsor, they’re the ones who are in those meetings and have the ear of the rest of the senior leadership team, and can create opportunities for women when they’re not in the room.

So today, we’ve got to create formal mentoring programs, and specifically encourage women – set the stage for them to have male mentors internally that could convert to male sponsors. And that’s really what we’re trying to do here at The Corporate Refinery, is forge new paradigms for women and what leadership means in today’s world.