Luminate’s Core Skills of a Great Project Sponsor

Feb 25, 2022

Sometimes skills and achievements on paper may seem impressive. However, in reality what is actually required from a great project sponsor is a much more unique set of skills and behaviours. Without such, it could be very difficult for any organisation to deliver a winning strategy.

These skills and behaviours aren’t black and white, and often enough they are already inherent within an individual. With that said, however, these skills can definitely be learned but it will take someone who is patient and willing to commit to their team’s best interests to do so.

Ultimately, effective project sponsorship is the difference between project success and failure.

That is why we, here at Luminate, have worked hard to compile a list of six core skills and behaviours that you can expect from a great project sponsor who will successfully lead a project team to delivery success.

1. Uniting a team that has confidence in their sponsor: Now this is easier said than done! A successful project sponsor needs to forget the list of attributes classically listed on paper for a successful team and instead hire those that have enough innovation and drive to get the job done successfully. Resourcing a project correctly from the outset can have a huge impact on the success of the project.

2. Remain calm in the face of obstacles: Almost all projects will run into bumps and hurdles during the delivery process. If a project sponsor is overly optimistic and expects everything to go smoothly, that is a sure sign of trouble ahead. What makes a project sponsor effective, is the ability to navigate the murky waters of any project and keep it moving forward carefully and smoothly. It’s crucial that a project sponsor is always informed and makes decisions with confidence to lead the team through any setbacks that occur.

3. Understand the importance of their role: Too often a project sponsor’s role is underestimated and overlooked, and quite often this is by the project sponsor themselves. An active and engaged project sponsor is always fully informed on progress within their project team and this allows them to successfully guide the project to success.

4. Make swift, aligned decisions: A great project sponsor will be able to clearly outline the business problem at hand, and articulate the risks and the advantages of the proposed actions. Realistic decisions can then be made in a timely manner and in keeping with the goals of the project’s success at the forefront of each action taken.

5. Be able to maintain regular communication: From the start, a great project sponsor should clearly set out the requirements and methods of communication to all stakeholders. Being an effective communicator and keeping a team united through communication is a key skill that is needed from the Project Sponsor. 

6. Be a collaborative Champion: What we mean here is that while always having a grip of the reins is important to ensure the project does not lose course, it is also just as important to know when to step back. Knowing when to trust the project manager has got the detail in check is also a key skill. Then your role may be more distant advice and subtle observation. Knowing when to step back and when to step in is a very important skill.

Overall, a great project sponsor requires critical thinking skills. To lead a successful project team requires patience, consistency, natural authority, and the ability to instil passion and drive with all stakeholders.

People make projects. Need help securing the right resources to make your next project viable and successful?  Talk to us, at Luminate we can help you to deliver a project successfully and professionally.