14 Ways to Keep Sex from Wrecking Something Great

Woman looking at computer screen, man looking over her shoulderApply a presumption of innocence.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

If you are concerned about the possibility of sex-related problems, consider the degree of risk involved and whether you are willing to assume it.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: How to Help Your Protégée Project the Right Image | How to Promote Your Protégée to Coworkers | 8 Steps to Guiding Your Protégée | 17 Ways to Follow Through on Sponsorship | How Protégées Can Help Sponsors | Fears of Innuendo, Gossip Impede Development | Women Must See Politics As Leadership | Why Some Women Resist Using Networks | Bias Persists Against Women with Children | Why Men Don’t See Women as Leaders | Thanks for the Advice, But I’d Really Prefer a Promotion | 18 Ways to Boost Your Protégée

Before you decide, consider

  • first that you might be exaggerating the risk, and
  • second that this is a risk that can be prevented and managed.

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How to Help Your Protégée Project the Right Image

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 8.32.28 AM'Soft skills' advice is needed, especially with 'double bind' issues.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Feedback is important at any level of professional development.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP FOR PRO MEMBERS: How to Promote Your Protégée to Coworkers | Can You Afford to Be a Sponsor? | Fears of Innuendo, Gossip Impede Development | Bias Persists Against Women with Children | Why Men Don’t See Women as Leaders | 18 Ways to Boost Your Protégée

But for a woman trying to become a leader, honest, clear and practical feedback is essential. She needs to know both how well she is performing and how to project the image she wants others to have of her.
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8 Steps to Guiding Your Protégée

Businessman excited to show someone what is on computer screenHow you can steer her to opportunities.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Once you have identified a woman to sponsor and determined that you click, you may be wondering how to get started.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Can You Afford to Be a Sponsor? | Fears of Innuendo, Gossip Impede Development | Women Must See Politics As Leadership | Why Some Women Resist Using Networks | 5 Ways Women Get Shoved Aside | Women Leaders Provide 6 Market Advantages | Why CPA Firms Need More Women

Here are some concrete steps to take:
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17 Ways to Follow Through on Sponsorship

Younger businesswoman and older businessman working togetherAn effective sponsorship requires work from both parties.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

When you sponsor a woman, there are many steps that you can take to ensure that the relationship is productive and achieves its objectives.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Can You Afford to Be a Sponsor? | How Protégées Can Help Sponsors | Beware Misunderstandings About Work Relationships | Fears of Innuendo, Gossip Impede Development | Women Must See Politics As Leadership | Why Some Women Resist Using Networks | Bias Persists Against Women with Children | Standards for Women Still Differ | Thanks for the Advice, But I’d Really Prefer a Promotion

Here are some tips for getting off to a strong start and following through effectively, especially by focusing on career opportunities and promoting your protégée to others.
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Can You Afford to Be a Sponsor?

Man pointing at computer screen while woman works, both smilingThe cost is in political capital.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Most sponsorship occurs informally, without any structured or programmatic context. Informal sponsor-protégée relationships usually start in one of three ways.

The most common way is when a senior manager or partner

  • identifies someone as a star performer,
  • believes that she has what it takes to succeed and
  • wants to make that success happen.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: How Protégées Can Help Sponsors | Beware Misunderstandings About Work Relationships | Women Must See Politics As Leadership | Bias Persists Against Women with Children | 5 Ways Women Get Shoved Aside | Why Men Don’t See Women as Leaders | Thanks for the Advice, But I’d Really Prefer a Promotion | 18 Ways to Boost Your Protégée | Why CPA Firms Need More Women | Protect Your Protégée from Flextime Saboteurs | Use Others to Promote Your Protégée | 8 Ways Sponsors Can Highlight Opportunities

The sponsor recognizes her talent and potential while they work together or when he observes her at work and is impressed by her ability. As the two work together their relationship grows.
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How Protégées Can Help Sponsors

Road with painted arrows heading two directions4 requirements when starting from scratch.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Most leaders engage in sponsorship and have been sponsored themselves, so the nature of a sponsor-protégée relationship should be familiar.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Beware Misunderstandings About Work Relationships | Women Must See Politics As Leadership | Bias Persists Against Women with Children | 5 Ways Women Get Shoved Aside | Thanks for the Advice, But I’d Really Prefer a Promotion | Women Leaders Provide 6 Market Advantages | Why CPA Firms Need More Women

Generally speaking, you sponsor women just as you do men. You may have to make a little more effort up front. And you might need to adapt to the impact of motherhood and other sex-related differences. But the strategies and tactics that sponsors use to help women move ahead are not much different than those for men.
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Beware Misunderstandings About Work Relationships

Shoe-only view of man and woman at office, back to back3 ways to derail sponsorships.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

We know that even when a relationship between a woman and a man is strictly business-focused, others may not see it that way. Here are three thorny issues to watch for and quell.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Fears of Innuendo, Gossip Impede Development | Women Must See Politics As Leadership | Why Some Women Resist Using Networks | Bias Persists Against Women with Children | Standards for Women Still Differ

1. Gossip and rumors

Relationships in the workplace are frequently the subject of rumors, and close relationships between senior men and junior women are tasty fodder for the gossip mill. Because sponsorship between a man and woman is not as common as sponsorship between two men, it is more noticeable and subjects the man and woman to greater scrutiny.
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Fears of Innuendo, Gossip Impede Development

Overhead view of male and female business partners analyzing statistical annual report represented in graphs on digital tablet.Keep close relationships from getting too close.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

A close work relationship between a man and a woman can generate sexual tensions in one or both of them.

When the man is older and powerful and the woman is young and ambitious, the potential for complications is even greater.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Women Must See Politics As Leadership | Why Some Women Resist Using Networks | 5 Ways Women Get Shoved Aside | 18 Ways to Boost Your Protégée | Women Leaders Provide 6 Market Advantages | Why CPA Firms Need More Women | Beyond Mentoring to Sponsorship

Even when the relationship is strictly business focused, it can be the subject of rumors, gossip and speculation among coworkers, and it can arouse feelings of jealousy and resentment in the sponsor’s wife.

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Women Must See Politics As Leadership

Businesswoman sitting on table while talking with four coworkersBONUS CHECKLIST: 4 reasons women decline opportunities.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Many women are uncomfortable calling attention to their achievements and ambitions, dislike politics, have difficulty asking others for a career boost or underestimate the importance of powerful backers. This makes it harder for potential sponsors to recognize how worthy these women are of their support.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Why Some Women Resist Using Networks | 5 Ways Women Get Shoved Aside | Why Men Don’t See Women as Leaders | Thanks for the Advice, But I’d Really Prefer a Promotion | Women Leaders Provide 6 Market Advantages | Protect Your Protégée from Flextime Saboteurs | 8 Ways Sponsors Can Highlight Opportunities

Some women hurt their own chances for sponsorship by failing to let sponsors know what they want and why they merit it. Sponsors are drawn to star performers who display confidence and a drive to succeed. Where a man might insist he is the right person for a job and ask to be promoted, a woman who is equally or even better qualified may downplay her qualifications for the job. Instead of aggressively pursuing promotions and opportunities, she waits to be asked, and then, when asked, may turn the offer down. Why?

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Why Some Women Resist Using Networks

Businesswoman in elevatorBONUS CHECKLIST: 4 ways sponsors can help women seek power.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Women tend to have a limited appreciation of how their networks can help them get ahead professionally. Developing strong business networks is critical for career advancement. Because a leader operates through others, her value and effectiveness are largely tied to the power of her network.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Bias Persists Against Women with Children | Standards for Women Still Differ | 5 Ways Women Get Shoved Aside | Why Men Don’t See Women as Leaders | Thanks for the Advice, But I’d Really Prefer a Promotion | 18 Ways to Boost Your Protégée | Women Leaders Provide 6 Market Advantages | Why CPA Firms Need More Women | Beyond Mentoring to Sponsorship | Protect Your Protégée from Flextime Saboteurs | How to Keep Sex from Derailing a Sponsorship | ‘Soft Skills’ Advice Needed, Too | Use Others to Promote Your Protégée | 8 Ways Sponsors Can Highlight Opportunities | 17 Ways Sponsors Can Help Protégées | 3 Ways to Open a Sponsorship Conversation | What Sponsors Need from Protégées | 3 Ways to Derail Sponsorships

Yet women are reluctant to cultivate potential sponsors through their networks, while men willingly use patronage and networks to open doors and provide opportunities that cannot be accessed through normal channels. Men attribute their promotions to personal connections as a matter of pride, not embarrassment, because it means that influential people see them as leaders and reward them accordingly. As a result, men benefit from the political processes that go on all around them while women lose out.

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