Jenny Fernandez, Lecturer in the Strategic Communication program, as well as a marketing executive, start-up advisor, and leadership coach, co-authored an article published in the Harvard Business Review outlining the benefits of building professional relationships over time.
The article defines and details five fundamental relationships to cultivate in the early stages of your career: mentor, mentee, sponsor, partner, and competitor. The article states that these relationships “can accelerate your path to a promotion, increase your visibility within an organization, and stretch you beyond your comfort zone into the leader you aspire to be.”
Mentors are known to be fundamental to success. As Fernandez points out, several influential people attribute their success to mentors. It is a tried and true relationship in which one with more experience shares their knowledge with one in the initial stages of their profession. They can be a “north star,” as Fernandez puts it, or someone to challenge and push you toward innovation and self-awareness.
Fernandez makes sure, however, to highlight the equal importance of eventually having a mentee. Teaching something, she argues, naturally gives one a deeper understanding of the subject and “helps hone important soft skills that every leader should have: strong communication, creativity, and empathy.”
Sponsors actively advocate for you, fostering connections and opportunities in the field. Partners are peers that become sources of trust, collaborative learning and critique. Finally, rivals provide the fuel of constructive competition, and Fernandez highlights several famously successful examples, including perhaps the most relevant and entertaining one of our current time, “Bezos vs. Musk!”
Fernandez imparts practical advice on how to begin and build each type of relationship. Read the full article, co-authored by Luis Velasquez, here.