You want to get ahead in your career, you often reach out to another successful woman because you want to hear her story. You want that advice to help you find your way and get that next opportunity. This is what you’ve been told to do, and so you do it.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent hours meeting with other women in coffee shops talking about work. I leave inspired, ready to take action, ready to follow up on the advice they gave. When I get back to my desk, I’m overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start and I don’t have the connections to actually put the advice into action.
Through lots of frustration and reading, I’ve discovered a better way. Asking for an opportunity instead of advice is what you need to do in order to get ahead.
The research says that having an influential mentor is one of the best strategies for career advancement. But the truth is women and men are mentored differently, and the way that women are being mentored is not helping to advance women into leadership roles.
In general, men are given opportunities, which is defined as sponsorship, and women are given advice, which is mentorship.
This is how it shows up at work: Men are given opportunities to learn on the job; they are pushed to take risks and given exposure to new projects and opportunities. The senior person will ask the junior male to present a few slides during a big presentation. They will be forced out of their comfort zone. They’ll have to learn on the job and get some valuable exposure in the process. This learning, this exposure, is what gets people promoted. It’s what gets people seen. It accelerates their learning and progresses their careers. At the end of the day, the onus to take action and create opportunities is shared.