Demystifying 5 Project Sponsor Myths

Some practical tips to overcome Project Sponsor Myths.


Demystifying 5 Project Sponsor Myths

The 5 Project Sponsor Myths – demystified!

Over the years I have worked on numerous change programmes across a variety of industries and companies and very rarely is the role of Project Sponsor clearly defined. Given how critical the role of the senior Sponsor is to project success, this is surprising. In an earlier blog I suggested that the first step to becoming a more effective Project Sponsor is to get clarity around and to articulate what it is you are expected to do in your role (Blog: “Formalise your role as Project Sponsor to avoid ambiguity and frustration“). Also, Project Sponsors often believe in myths with regards to their role.

Today I want to shed some light on the myths that are a consequence of this lack of clarity. Given that the role is not very well defined, there are a lot of unspoken expectations within the project team and the group of key stakeholders. Project Sponsors also operate within their own understanding of the role and have some misconceptions.

So what are these Project Sponsor Myths?

Let’s have a look at why some beliefs Project Sponsors hold are actually myths, create some better understanding around the complexity of the role and think about how you can change your beliefs and create a new mind-set. I will give you some practical tips to overcome these myths as we go through them.

1I really haven’t got the time to dedicate to the Project. I rely on the Project Manager to deal with it all.

You are a busy person in your organisation. You have to deal with complexity and constantly changing demands on your time. You think you have no time for Project Sponsor activities, yet the Project Sponsor has a crucial role to play in a change programme. So what can you do?

  • Set aside a regular time slot to carry out Project Sponsor activities that save you time in the long run.*)
  • Agree with the Project Manager what tasks you can delegate, and where it should be really you as the Sponsor to carry out the activities.

2Once I have kicked off the project and signed off the funding, that’s me done – right?

As above, there are certain Sponsor activities, that you should NOT delegate. Also have a think how visible the project is, how complex and how well the Project Manager is suited to the role of managing the day-to-day of the project and where there is support needed. What practical tips can I give you?

  • Assess the complexity and importance of the project and the skills of the Project Manager and the project team and identify how hands-on you need to be during the project. This can also change over the lifetime of the project.

3It doesn’t really make a difference whether I get involved in the project or not

Oh – it does!!! I shared some examples of past experiences with Project Sponsor involvement in the blog “Five tips to become a more visible and proactive Project Sponsor“. Lack of involvement leads to lack of progress and total team demotivation. Whereas a project team that feels valued and supported will pull out all the stops!

A real issue is that the time investment for a Project Sponsor role is not recognised or rewarded in a lot of organisations. Another case for the need of formalising the role.

4Anyone senior in the organization can be a Project Sponsor

In order to move up through the ranks and become a senior manager in the organisation you will have to display certain attributes and you will need to have a certain standing in the organisation. So probably a lot of senior people can carry out the role of a Project Sponsor. However would you be the right choice to sponsor any project in the organisation? In order to be effective in your role you do need to fulfil certain criteria! Have you got:

  • appropriate direct control over people and processes (in order to facilitate the necessary decisions)?
  • right alliances in the organisation to support the particular change and can you use your political skills to create the necessary buy-in?
  • relevant expertise to ask challenging questions and to guide the project team and key stakeholders towards the vision?

5I know how to be a great Project Sponsor

100% of Project Sponsors probably claim this, yet 70-80% of projects fail and the number 1 reason quoted is the lack of visible and proactive Project Sponsorship. A bit of self-reflection, maybe some new Project Sponsor activities (see some of the blogs for inspiration) and an open and honest conversation with your Project Sponsor and key stakeholders around their expectations might help you to fine-tune your way of doing things as a Project Sponsor.

Do you want to take on a challenge?

Your task for today:

Identify the myth that has been holding you back from being an effective Project Sponsor so far and reword your belief. Let’s have a look at an example:

From Myth: “I have no time to dedicate to the project.”

To New Belief: I have identified a block of 1 hour in my week’s schedule and have earmarked it to carry out specific project tasks – this will save time in the long run (write down the specific activities you plan to carry out).

First step to be successful in your role as Project Sponsor

Demystifying these myths has confirmed that there is a need to formalise the role of a Project Sponsor in organisations. When I think about how to set up Project Sponsors for success, this is the first important step: understanding the organisational context, putting all unspoken expectations and assumptions on the table and formalising the role.

If you are interested to continue on your Project Sponsor journey to become the best Project Sponsor you can be, have a look at my Online Course which is now available: “Setting the Project Sponsor up for Success”

Introducing the Course

It is a very practical Course which takes you through firstly understanding the role of the Project Sponsor in theory, and then applying what you have learned to your organisational context, establishing your own Project Sponsor role description. The Course is laid out for you to complete it within 2 – 3 weeks, so you should be able to work through it with a time investment of 1 – 2 hours per week. You can complete the Course in a maximum of 5 short hours Online in your own time. Of course you might already be familiar with some concepts, then you work through it quicker, or you might take some time to deepen some of the learning. It is flexible – you can go at your own speed.

The bite-sized Course will provide you with:

  • A baseline of your performance as Project Sponsor
  • Areas for improvement identified and a powerful action plan to implement the improvements
  • A Project Sponsor role description agreed with your project team and key stakeholders
  • A Project Sponsor Manifesto, defining how you want to work with the team and key stakeholders going forward
  • An approach to build some best practice Project Sponsor Habits

*) One of the highlights of the Course: You will find out how you can claw back some time for your day job by investing only 2 – 3 hours a week of regular Project Sponsor activities in your project, while at the same time be more effective, more visible and more proactive in your role. Click on the link to find out more about my Online Course “Setting the Project Sponsor up for Success”.

Setting the Project Sponsor up for Success

I feel passionate about helping people through change and I feel that the Project Sponsors are often overlooked when it comes to offering training and coaching support. When you take on the crucial role of Project Sponsor you deserves all the help and support you can get, in order to be the best Project Sponsor you can be – so that more and more projects can be completed on budget, to schedule and deliver the results they set out to achieve.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss the chance to be the best Project Sponsor you can be! Check out the Online Course “Setting the Project Sponsor up for Success”.

Not quite ready for this commitment yet? Check out my free E-mail Course.

Free E-mail Course

This Blog article is part of my free E-mail Course “5 Powerful Strategies to become a more effective Project Sponsor”. If you are not already in, sign up for the free E-mail Course!

Please call me on +44 7855 919748 or send me an E-mail to I am looking forward to an informal conversation to discuss your specific Project Sponsor needs.