Forging a Sponsor/Project Manager Bond

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

Have you ever wanted to fire your sponsor for not providing enough support? Project managers realize an engaged and supportive sponsor is instrumental in ensuring project success. However, many project managers struggle with building a collaborative relationship with the sponsor because training, books and articles rarely focus on the skills required to build a relationship. To make matters worse, the possibility exists that the sponsor perceives his or her role differently than the project manager’s expectations.

Great project managers understand there is no “typical” sponsor, which means each sponsor/project managerrelationship is unique. Project managers realize the necessity of adapting their leadership and management style; the importance of listening carefully before acting; the significance of empathizingand educating; and the need to take the initiative to forge a bond with a sponsor. Great project managers also know that bonding takes time. This article presents three sponsor/project management relationship concepts.

Concept 1: "I'm not a human resource, I'm a human being." -- Occupy Wall Street
A sponsor is more than a resource assigned to support a project. They are a person, a human being. Start building the sponsor/project manager relationship by getting to know each other professionally and personally.

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