Is your Project Sponsor a Servant Leader?

Part 7 of 7 in the Series: How To Become A Project Manager
Project Sponsors, Servant Leaders?
Project Sponsors, Servant Leaders?

Having good or effective project sponsors is one of the ways you can prevent project failure which is a real problem considering that nearly two – thirds of projects fail!

The project sponsor is not the business analyst even though the project sponsor helps the business analyst in gathering requirements and the project sponsor is not the project manager even though the project sponsor helps the project manager deliver a successful project.

It is the project sponsor’s job to ensure that the project team (project manager, business analysts, and team lead) have the technical or operational resources they need and that the project is aligned with the strategic needs of the organization.

For your project to succeed, it needs the backing of preferably one project sponsor, who is also a senior-level or management executive.

In this post, I will review the project sponsor’s role in helping your team deliver it’s project successfully.

  1. The Job of the Project Sponsor in Securing Financial Capital

    The project sponsor helps secure the project’s funding at inception and at at different points in the project life cycle based on significant scope changes, milestones, deliverables or some other criteria.

  2. The Job of the Project Sponsor in Hiring Team Members

    The project sponsor approves the addition of new team members, facilitates their hiring or transfer from other departments and their full-time or part-time allocation to your project.

    The project sponsor has the authority, which the project manager may lack, to negotiate with other department managers, C-level executives or upper management for the additional talent, infrastructure or resources needed to complete the project on time and under budget.

  3. The Project Sponsor’s Job As a Cheerleader

    Internal Champion: The project sponsor has to be one of the biggest cheer-leaders for the project or team. In that role, the project sponsor encourages, motivates and inspires the team members, so that they can overcome the obstacles facing them.

    External Champion: At the same time, the project sponsor takes responsibility for both the success and failure of the team and defends, champions or acts as an advocate for the team in senior management meetings.

  4. The primary motivation of an effective project sponsor, is the desire to serve the organization and the team or see the project to success as long as it’s aligned with the company’s strategic goals.

    In the time tested tradition of servant leaders, project sponsors must be eager or willing to let the team members take credit for their work and not be the type of leader who succeeds by throwing others under the bus!

    Is Your Project Sponsor A Servant Leader?

  • The project sponsor does not schedule or manager the team’s resources on a day by day basis or on a task by task basis.

    The project sponsor just secures the team members / resources and then makes them available to the project manager or team lead.

  • The project sponsor does not throw the team members under the bus because he/she is the primary champion of the project and the team.

    The project sponsor has to be a real-leader, someone who knows how to create trust by rewarding the team based on merit and not based on favoritism or internal politics.

  • The project sponsor’s goal is not to be seen as a hero or to use the project or team members to advance his/her own political goals.

For your project to succeed, you need a management level executive who is a servant leader … someone who inspires, leads, motivates by serving others.

Servant leaders lead by developing their team members first before they advance their own careers.

The career of a servant leader is built on helping others succeed and not on succeeding at the expense of team members!

Discussion Questions

Based on this post, answer the questions below:

  • Does your project have a project sponsor?
  • Is your project sponsor a servant leader?
  • What is your experience working with servant leaders vs. working with leaders who put their personal interests and agendas first?



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