Directed Field Study – Week 4

Time spent this week: Approximately 6 hours, bringing my total for the semester to 21 hours.

Activities this week: The bulk of my time this week was in reading the remainder of the research articles that I had found (2.5 hours), plus the first third of the Forget a Mentor, Get a Sponsor book (2 hours). I also met with my mentor for an hour, and did some preparatory work pulling two articles and two reports from Catalyst for her to read on her flights to France (1.5 hours).

Skill development this week: As usual, my meeting with Jennifer was very interesting and helped to fine-tune our further work. We are less convinced that a training program marketed broadly is appropriate for Talent Development to maintain – but perhaps there are other ways we could support the development of sponsorship as a means to support women’s leadership development on campus. In part this is because of a concern that sending a dozen women out in search of sponsors on our relatively small campus could backfire massively – and neither of us has the pull with leadership above us to try to teach them about being sponsors. However, we are still interested in pulling together materials with a goal of determining next steps in an emergent way.

The three articles that I read this week were interesting but not, in the end, hugely informative beyond what I’ve already read. Two were focused generally on business leaders and their sponsorship histories, and the third had to do specifically with human resources professionals and their different mentoring histories. I have a few additional articles to look up, but in the end there’s not a lot new in these articles. I do find it interesting that there’s not much agreement in these articles about whether mentoring and sponsoring are related or nested or independent of each other.

The book, on the other hand, is a remarkably rich source of background (much of which I’ve read, including Lean In) and practical advice. I like the first person point of view and the mixture of narrative, evidence, and recommendation. So far at 1/3rd of the way in (4 chapters) I’ve got a lovely handle on what sponsorship is and how it works (including a handy three-part model for what sponsors do and how protegés reward them), and how to prep for getting a sponsor by first understanding my career goals and my professional strengths and then by identifying potential sponsors. Included in chapter 3 are several sets of questions to help guide the development of self-evaluation, which I find very helpful.

Activities for the upcoming week involve working further in the book as well as going through some of the questions to start building my own story. So far my main skill improvement has been that I’ve realized how much I need a sponsor, so I’m updating my outcomes for this summer to work on that as well. I’m also planning to read the two Catalyst reports that I had identified for Jennifer (but gave her my print copies). Jennifer is in France (and completely off grid) for the next two weeks, so I’ll be preparing materials in her absence.

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