Mentorship Plus is an initiative started in 2020 that has been co‑developed by members of employment equity and equity‑seeking groups to better support leadership development, with specific emphasis on supporting members of underrepresented groups who aspire to leadership and executive positions. The initiative seeks to pair federal public service employees with executive mentors/sponsors.
Leila Bocksch, Director of Regulatory Reviews at Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, talks about her experience with Mentorship Plus:
Mentorship: the final piece
Mentorship and sponsorship programs are critical for career development – especially for equity-seeking groups. Accessing the thought processes, critical networks, learning the fundamental competencies, and hearing about the day-to-day experiences of a senior leader can help protégés (or mentees) like myself to seek, create, explore, and gain the necessary skills to move into the executive cadre.
I found that the Mentorship Plus program helped me to accelerate my learning and was the final piece I needed to achieve my personal career goal of entering the executive ranks. I am sharing my experience of benefiting from this program in hopes that it will encourage others to participate (as either a protégé or a mentee), thus promoting the continuation of this extremely valuable program.
Mentees and protégés will need to identify boundaries between their personal and private lives; this can be supported by one’s mentor or sponsor. My sponsor was comfortable acknowledging how much our personal lives can intersect and impact our careers, and we were able to invest the time in creating a meaningful, deep connection as individuals (one-on-one) which fostered our authentic connection. You cannot talk meaningfully about careers without talking about the source of our motivations and about life’s highs and lows.
Forming a relationship built on trust requires us to ‘show up’ as our authentic selves. This can’t be achieved without disclosing who we are: our hopes; our fears; and our goals. My sponsor taught me how to be vulnerable by ‘showing up’ as her true self. She showed me, through sharing her whole self, the value of building a trusting relationship where your perspective will be heard and appreciated.
Towards a Goal
My sponsor and I intentionally infused a clear sense of purpose into our sponsor/protégé relationship to craft goals and momentum to solidify the relationship. I think without this step, mentorship or sponsorship can become a nice friendship but will not help employees reach their goals. Specifically, my sponsor helped me to connect my deeper motivations and values to my career, and helped me to better understand my strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots.
Not all plans work out smoothly. My sponsor encouraged me to examine situations that I perceived as setbacks, through a lens of self-compassion and with a more open and strategic mindset. This taught me that although it is important to develop a plan forward, it is just as important to be flexible and strategic. Unforeseen obstacles can sometimes be opportunities in disguise.
Consistency is Key
Most importantly, we maintained regular virtual one-on-ones. Having my sponsor carve out time in her busy schedule to share her thoughts and insights was the essential piece that made my experience outstanding. My sponsor’s consistency and reliability in meeting with me and showing enthusiasm during our discussions built my trust in her. My showing up with goals and questions fueled her desire to want to continue towards deeper conversations.
Sponsorship provides value in supporting the next generation of leaders, particularly when the relationship is built on mutual respect, depth of rapport, and clarity of purpose. In a time of retention and recruitment concerns, and in a time of declining trust in leadership, sponsorship can be used to encourage talented employees to enter the executive cadre and support strengthening relationships across an organization. I am grateful to have had such a meaningful sponsorship experience and I highly recommend getting involved.
Do you want to make sure your department is on board with Mentorship Plus? Visit the GCConnex group for more information on how to get involved.
For more information about the Mentorship Plus program, visit our page on Canada.ca.