QUESTION: I need a godfather for my career advancement.
FACT: A godfather helps, but mentors at various stages of your career can be of more help.
Many folks want to have a godfather. Some work diligently towards getting one. A few will succeed. But it’s only in rare cases that the relationship lasts. Now the question is—how do you find a godfather? There is no easy answer. He could be from the same company, the same industry or from a totally different background. It is important to identify a few and watch them over the years to judge their suitability for this role. Most people have an opportunity to identify one, but due to job changes, the relationship is sometimes not maintained. Some people regret losing the relationship when they find their godfather growing in stature and position in the Industry.
The most important help that a godfather can provide is by opening the first door of a desired opportunity, But after that, it is one’s own performance that counts. If your godfather is from the same company, it provides you with mental peace that you’ll be taken care. of if someone blames you for wrongdoing. And if any new opportunity comes up, there’s a good chance that, with the backing of the godfather, your name will be recommended.
But there are drawbacks, too. If you have a godfather in the same company, then he should be at least two or three levels above you to be of any help. And if the godfather moves up in the future, then you are sort of assured of help over a longer duration. But the flip side is that, if the gap between you and your godfather’s levels becomes narrower, then it might impact the relationship, and the godfather can well be transformed into an adversary. There’s also the problem of your success being solely attributed to the largess of your godfather. Then there are cases where the godfather demands his own ‘pound of flesh’, and the beneficiary feels indebted to oblige although he Is not at all convinced. Such situations can lead to problems at the workplace.
Here is a toss-up: Is a mentor for all seasons more helpful than a long-term godfather? Different stages of a career require different types of counseling and guidance. Here’s where the role of an experienced mentor rather than a godfather,
becomes significant; since this mentor has handled people at all sorts of stages, his advice is more actionable. And if your mentor is outside your company, he will have genuine interest in providing help as he will not have any agenda regarding his own position in the company.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? You have to develop. a good network where you can interact with experienced people who are willing to provide advice. It is up to you to follow the advice or turn it into inputs for decision-making. You can build and maintain a set of advisers depending upon your soft skills. The way you build relationships and the nature of these interactions can give you a clue as to who could be a godfather or a mentor. If you do not spend time in maintaining relationships or if people do not see any value in interacting with you, then you might lose a few important contacts. Your intent should be on expanding your network, since, by its very nature, it will shrink.