The only project sponsors who think sponsorship is an undemanding job are the ones who do not actually understand sponsorship. Project sponsors are the conduit between strategy and execution. That makes them critically important. In a post at Strategy Execution, Elizabeth Harrin describes some qualities that good project sponsors possess.
Fully Featured Sponsorship
Sponsors first and foremost must be influential and well connected. They should have a spider web’s worth of connections throughout the organization that can be used to support project delivery, should the need arise. Sponsors also need to have excellent communication skills as they convey the strategic vision to the team. They should ensure that the project team knows as much as they do about matters that could have an impact on the project. Project managers can only make the best decisions when sponsors keep them well-informed.
Although, sponsors too are often called upon to make important decisions. Sponsors who drag their toes from lack of confidence are ineffective. They need to be confident enough to take action early and be willing to absorb the fallout if it turns out to be the wrong choice. Ultimately, sponsors are in a partnership with project managers and their teams, and sponsors need to hold up their end of the bargain.
Part of that bargain is ensuring that sponsors operate in a “reasonable” manner:
By this I mean that the sponsor should be able to listen to reason and be able to operate sensibly. You don’t want someone who will insist that the whole strategic project must be delivered by Friday, when any reasonable manager would know that delivery by the end of the third quarter would be just as good and a lot less stressful for everyone. You want project sponsors who can take on board logical arguments, analyse the facts and make considered judgments based on their professional experience. This gives them the ability to provide guidance that will be helpful to the project team.
For additional thoughts on what makes a good project sponsor, you can view the original post here: https://www.strategyex.co.uk/blog/pmoperspectives/the-skills-project-sponsors-need-to-support-strategy/