Updated: Aug 27, 2020
My support system (mentors and sponsors) vary in gender, race, location, business function. During a recent conversation on the reception of my LinkedIN article "If I weren't a female...if I weren't black", a good friend suggested to share the positive experience of supporters acquired over the course of my career. In the previous article, I wrote about my experience working with one leader who didn't value my opinion or support me, that does not diminish the rainbow of supporters that I had along the way. I believe she used the phrase "it takes a village". The men and women in my support system all did one common thing: took me under their wing. They recognized the hard-work, ambition, and get it done attitude. I can truly say their support gave me access to opportunities that otherwise would not been afforded. Below is the value of a good support system:
Exposure to high level leaders. I was afforded the opportunity to sit in on meetings or attend networking sessions with higher level individuals. This allowed me to learn how to communicate and operate with senior level leaders.
Feedback on my image and areas of improvement. In some cases feedback has been hard to accept. The feedback that hurt has made me better over time.
Access to learning opportunities. When opportunities come up my supporters tee my name up to attend various training.
A clear understanding of the expectations of leadership. I learned more about leading a team from observing than from any book on leadership.
Backing to take on highly visible role in the organization. I remember distinctly a few times being considered for a positions solely due to a supporters willingness to speak on my behalf.
I challenge you to find a rainbow of supporters. People who are not "like" you. There is value in knowing the perspective of diverse group of people. Diversity of thought is a gift. A gift to be treasured.