Mentor & Sponsors: How they help you succeed and why you need both

Genny Heikka coaching and consulting for women

When it comes to women and leadership, both mentor and sponsor relationships are key, but the relationship that paves the way for greatest impact is often the least understood and most underutilized. Is there a difference between having a mentor and having a sponsor, and does it matter to your success? It turns out, it matters a lot.

Both mentors and sponsors can play a critical role in your career, but the two aren’t interchangeable. While mentors and sponsors are key in helping women advance in their careers, mentor relationships are insufficient on their own. Sponsor relationships are key…

  • Women with sponsors are 27% more likely than their un-sponsored female peers to ask for a raise and 22% more likely to ask for the “stretch assignments” that build their reputations as leaders. -Fastcompany, 2017.
  • Women are 54% less likely than men to have a sponsor (women are “over-mentored and under sponsored”). (HBR), 2018.
  • Women, on average, have three times as many mentors as men, but men have twice as many sponsors.  -Sylvia Ann Hewlett, CNN Money, Carpenter, 2017.
  • Professionals with sponsors are 23% more likely than their peers to be promoted.–Harvard Business Review, Clark, 2018


When you equip and empower employees (and yourself!) to develop and nurture mentor and sponsor relationships, it puts employees in the drivers seat of their own careers and paves the way for more diverse leadership.

My Mentor & Sponsor Skill Builder gives attendees:

  • Increased awareness and understanding about mentors and sponsors (what each of these typically do, the differences and benefits).
  • Increased visibility to sponsorship and its importance in advancing women in leadership.
  • Clear connection between a job/role they would like to get in the future and how mentors and sponsors can help them get there.
  • Clear idea of one possible mentor and one possible sponsor to develop relationships with (on handout).
  • Understanding of how to get a mentor / how not to get a mentor, how sponsorships are most often developed, and how to develop and nurture these relationships to help advance their own growth and career.
  • Understanding of what it means to be sponsor-ready, introductory understanding of how a strong personal brand can help.
  • Encouragement and inspiration to apply the knowledge from the session in their own lives, as well as share it to help other women advance, too.

Let's work together!

My consulting services and group or team workshops look different for each company I work with, and it always starts with a simple conversation to understand your goals and needs. Simply reach out here and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours. I look forward to talking!