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Motivational Moments

Women and the trouble with mentors
By Selena Rezvani

Much ado has been made recently about the importance of sponsors, versus mentors, in the career advancement of women. Just this summer, Catalyst released a study, Sponsoring Women to Success , pointing to the fact that sponsorship may in fact be the single most critical strategy for accelerating a woman’s career.

So just what is the difference between a mentor and sponsor? Think of mentors as the friendly guides who dispense helpful information, offering up input and advice to mentees. Sponsors, on the other hand, are defined by their organizational clout and ability to open doors; they will personally advocate for a cause, project or promotion on a protégé’s behalf.

Women, it’s time to get a sponsor.

What may in effect sound like a slight distinction actually has major implications. Research substantiates that women tend to lag behind men when it comes to promotions, even when...

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Selena Rezvani is an author, speaker, and consultant specializing in women and leadership.  In her book, The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won't Learn in Business School, she interviewed women executives in various capacities who successfully navigated the leadership maze. Ms. Rezvani is co-president of Women's Roadmap and she also writes a column in the Washington Post's On Leadership issues.   


Four Ways Women Stunt Their Careers Unintentionally

Having combed through more than a thousand 360-degree performance assessments conducted in recent years, we've found, by a wide margin, that the primary criticism men have about their female colleagues is that the women they work with seem to exhibit low self-confidence.

Our gut says that this may partly be a perception issue we've observed that men sometimes interpret (or misinterpret) an inclination in women to share credit or defer judgment as a lack of confidence. Still, perception or not, there is some research to suggest that women themselves feel less self-assured at work than men. A study released in 2011 by Europe's Institute of Leadership and Management revealed that women report having lower confidence in regard to their careers: 

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Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt — nationally recognized experts on women's leadership — are principals of Flynn Heath Holt Leadership (FHHL). They are co-authors ofBreak Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women's Paths to Power.