There is a difference between having a mentor in the business setting and having a sponsor. That’s one of the key insights Cindy R. Kent shared this week at the 2020 Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference. Kent, Executive Vice President and President of Senior Living for Brookdale Senior Living, shared tips from her career experiences about building and leveraging relationships in the workplace. She was one of three participants in a panel discussion that explored strategic ways to build and leverage relationships.
Kent said that people looking to advance in their careers need both mentors and sponsors.
“Throughout my career, I’ve learned that my mentors have talked to me about me and helped me think about things differently,” said Kent. She added, “Sponsors, on the other hand, wear your tee shirt when you are not in the room. For various reasons, they leverage their political and social capital to help advance your career.” Kent advised that sponsorship has to be earned through building genuine relationships.
Kent also shared that it is okay to show vulnerability in the workplace, especially when you are new to a company or an industry. She said that if you come from a place of honesty and transparency as you join a new team, you can learn and lead more effectively.