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A friend in the trenches of community engagement and growing human capital, Julie Kantor of Two Mentor, asked me a question today which really got me thinking. She asked me if I knew the difference between a mentor and a sponsor?  I did not, but then I thought about it. Here is the answer.

A MENTOR: A Mentor stands to the side of you, or behind you. Giving you counsel, advise, education, encouragement, references, maybe even referrals.

A SPONSOR: A sponsor is someone that goes beyond Mentoring. They not only give you advise and counsel, and stand next to you, they stand IN FRONT OF YOU.  A Mentor stands next to you, or behind you, but a Sponsor stands in front of you — effectively ‘vouching’ for you to and for others.  Standing in the door, that opens for you.

Statistically, men have had more Sponsors that women have.  This has to change, in order for women to take on the true leadership and Principal roles in business, public service, community and life that their talents call forth.

I have been blessed with both Mentors and Sponsors over my career and life. They started as Mentors — generally selected by me. Many ended up as Sponsors, with them — selecting me in the end.

Do the work of selecting the right Mentors, and then making it easy for them to Mentor and work with you. No guilt trips when they are busy (which will be most of the time). And then EARN the right — to then have a Sponsor.

I will include this topic as part of the growing Facebook Live Silver Rights ‘Straight Talk’ Video Series. Sign up now. 200,000 other people have, and 20 million have watched the videos in less than a year.  I also cover this topic in some detail in my forthcoming book, THE MEMO, out in September, 2017, from Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Onward and with HOPE,

John Hope Bryant


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