Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? While I’m excited to see the focus shift to relationships that help you kill the game at work, I’m low key mad because no one was talking mentorship when I needed it the most! Not only was I in my 30’s when I heard someone say “Your network is your net worth”, I didn’t secure my first mentor until I was 36. Yes, 20 years after landing my first job, I met with a mentor for the first time. #BIGMISTAKE

My problem is that I traded “or” for “and.” I should have continued to exceed performance expectations AND have a support system, not simply settle for doing the work. “A Preliminary Report On The State Of Black Professionals” by National Black MBA Association confirms you’ll need a squad to not only thrive at work, but to also survive at work. It states: “…..professionals should develop a multi-dimensional strategic support system for advancement in the workplace.”

Your support system (aka squad) should include:

  • Peer Mentors: This ongoing relationship is a mutual exchange that helps you calibrate while soliciting feedback and recommendations.
  • Senior Mentors: Leverage this partnership when you’re: seeking wisdom, guidance and advice relevant to skill building, mental model development or specific information that positions you to make power moves.
  • Coaches: Not only do they reveal your blind spots, help you achieve clarity and hold you accountable, they also help enhance and improve your presence as well as your performance. As you consider specific career knowledge necessary to maximize your career, securing a coach is a necessity.
  • Sponsors: These are the individuals who have influence and authority; who can access doors you currently cannot. Not only do they advocate for you, they position you, nominate you for opportunities and are willing to put their name on the line for you. This relationship is one that is built authentically over an extended period of time but is a true gamechanger.

In essence, a Coach talks to you, a Mentor speaks with you and a Sponsor talks about you. Make sure you have one of each as you level up at work in 2019. #SquadGoals

Ericka Spradley is the Chief PowHer Officer/Founder of Confident Career Woman which is the premier consulting firm for corporations and the mid-career professional woman who wants to advance, better manage her career, and go further faster. Ericka is an advocate who partners with clients to help women ditch perfection, play bigger and make PowHer Moves by: identifying their next role, creating a career strategy, offering ongoing career guidance, and coaching clients to master interviews. For additional information, visit: ErickaSpradley.com