Every middle manager needs a dream sponsor
The beginning of January always seems to bring with it our hopes and dreams for the new year. Often, the career goals of a manager cause us to reflect on what we didn’t get to accomplish the previous year. Sure, some of these shortcomings were beyond our control, but in general, we probably could’ve done a better job at staying on track.
What commonly happens is that we begin the new year full of optimism and energy, both of which tend to wane as the year marches on. And towards the end, we find ourselves wondering why we failed to meet our goals:
1. Perhaps we were too optimistic.
2. Maybe we just ran into bad luck this year.
3. The conditions probably weren’t right.
Sure, one or more of these reasons might explain some of the gap between what you’d planned and the career goals of a manager that you actually accomplished. But we can’t attribute them to everything we didn’t get done.
In fact, based on my 35 years of experience, the gap between what we’d wanted and what actually got done isn’t the fault of the stars. It’s usually due to a lack of careful planning.
Without planning, a dream remains a dream. But with planning, a dream is broken down into specific steps that can be managed.
Managing the steps towards your dream
One of the best ways to keep you on track towards accomplishing your dreams is finding a “dream sponsor.” We know that sponsors are used in many recovery frameworks to help people get better. Getting help from a sponsor makes sense. When we promise something to just ourselves, we often break these promises with any minor excuse. But when we promise something to someone else, a dream sponsor, we tend to stick to our commitment, lest we let them down. What’s more, a dream sponsor can also support us when things aren’t easy - giving us the encouragement we need to carry on.
So as you begin thinking about your goals for the new year, the first step to consider is finding a dream sponsor. This person doesn’t have to fit any profile, just someone whom you trust and who can relate to your specific goals.
Here are some practical principles for managing a dream sponsor relationship:
1. Agree on times when you’ll report your progress towards your goals.
2. Reach out when you feel as if you’ve gotten off track.
3. Report on all of your successes - no matter how small.
If you follow these faithfully, you’ll find yourself this time next year having accomplished much more than you had in the past.
I know that some of you might be thinking that you don’t want to burden someone else with your issues. After all, everyone has goals and most of us are struggling to accomplish them. But the truth is that it’s not as much of a burden as you might think. Your dream sponsor’s main job is to be there - the hard work is still up to you.
Good luck and let me know how it’s working for you as you begin the new year.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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