Who is the Project Sponsor?

The project sponsor is the senior leader accountable for the project’s success. The sponsor usually has financial responsibility for the project. He is placed high enough in the organization to be able to resolve inter-department disputes. He should represent the recipients of the project’s results. For example, if the project will result in a tool to be used by the sales team, the sponsor should lead that sales department.

The sponsor creates the environment in which the project can be successful. She protects the project from priority shifts. She allocates appropriate time to the project team so they can complete the work quickly. She serves as the project’s champion.

The sponsor doesn’t manage the project nor does he do the project work. Instead, he makes it possible for the project to succeed.

For more information about the Smart Sponsors workshop, click here.

Inspirational Thoughts on Leadership

My friend, Jack Perron, sent me this excerpt from a sweet book called The Willows and Beyond by William Horwood. The book is a sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. For best comic effect, take a moment to read these inspirational words on leadership out loud.

In this scene, Toad (who has been visited by his lazy son, Master Toad, andwho has decided that the kid needs to be forced to hike every day) comes across a book by chance in his library…

The book was entitled “Hiking For Leaders With Novices: Do’s, Don’t’s, and Definitely Not’s”, by Colonel J.R. Wheeler Senior, Member of the Alpine Club and Hiking Advisor to the Royal Marines School of Music (Yachting Section).

Wheeler’s notion of leadership was clear and to the point:

The leader is leader, and must at all times be on his guard against
insubordination and the dangers of paying too much attention to the weak and
feeble in his group. These must be weeded out and made an example of.

Where native porters are concerned, the leader is advised to hire two or
three (on my Nangha-Dhal Experdition I took on an extra porter for every
four days of the journey, but conditions were extreme) so that they might be
disposed of en route to encourage the others not to slacken.

The good leader will always remain in front and not allow another to
take his place there, otherwise, like the African pack lion, he is done
for….

It will frequently happen, and a leader should certainly not be
disheartened by this, that the way will be lost. I make it a practice, and I
urge novice leaders to learn from my mistakes and follow this advice
vigorously, on no account to tell others in my party where I intend going.
This ensures that wherever one may arrive, one appears to have intended that
as one’s destination.

The true leader should not feel obliged to know or understand the use of
every piece of equipment or the practice of every technique, for he will
have employed those in his expedition who should be able and willing
advisors on such matters. However, the effective leader will need to
appreciate the importance of seeming to know what he is talking about and
looking as if he knows what he is doing. This inspires confidence in those
he leads, and keeps them at their tasks.

Therefore, a leader is strongly advised to try on the equipment till he
is used to wearing it, and to find some quiet place where, unobserved, he
can get the feel of it with a short solo hike or two. In this way, he will
ensure that he looks the part.

Having a Vision

Your team has a good project, one you believe in and which will help your organization to achieve its goals. The next step is to write a good vision statement. You may think that everyone understands where the project is going, but folks are probably more confused than you think.

Here’s Scott Berkun on the subject, from The Art of Project Management:

Because everything derives from the high-level vision, the team’s overall leader should invest more entergy in it than any other early planning material. The five most important characteristics [of a good vision] are:

  • simplifying
  • goal-driven
  • consolidated
  • inspirational
  • memorable

I counsel my students to write short vision statements, no more than a sentence or two. The language should be vivid and exciting, quickly communicating that vision of the future state which gives their project meaning.