Active Project Sponsorship: The Coach

"Do not walk behind me, I may not lead. Do not walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my coach"

Do it for them and they don't learn. Leave them to it and you don't know what's going on and after all it's your job to be in control. How many Sponsors feel caught between these extremes? The answer is probably most.

There is another way however - like taking the "middle path". Right down the middle is a route that will enable you to engage with and support your Project Leader without letting them abdicate responsibility back to you. The path is not easy, it is fraught with danger and without a good understanding of where you are going you can easily lose your way.

This workshop will help you to find that path, convince someone to walk with you and safely navigate your way through to joint success. Sponsorship means being there for your Project Leader when things are going well and more importantly, being there when they get tough. Combine this active Sponsorship with great coaching and you can inject a sense of self reliance into your Project Leader that leads you both through interdependence to ultimate independence. Sounds familiar? Every responsible parent on the planet follows this path.

Workshop outline

Gives details of all the standard sessions, however we are always happy to customise this workshop to meet your specific needs.


This one day event is designed to challenge and supercharge the project sponsor's skill set with carefully researched & designed coaching skills specifically aimed at the role of sponsor.

Target participation

This workshop is designed for project sponsors who have attended the foundation workshop, Mastering Change through Active Project Sponsorship and want to further develop their personal skills and those of their project team leaders and move beyond the basic sponsor/project leader relationship.

Support materials

Participants need to return to this workshop with the guidebook Mastering Change through Project Management, provided on the first workshop Mastering Change through Active Project Sponsorship.


It is strongly recommended that participants attend the Mastering Change through Active Project Sponsorship prior to attendance.

Workshop Outline


With no time to lose, the workshop launches with an attention grabbing re-introduction to the role of sponsor. No gradual ramp up here, participants are expected to pick up from where they left off and prepare the ground for further learning in a vigorous manner. This phase includes: review of agenda, event operating principles, expectation-setting, and a review of progress since the last event.

The project players

This session quickly reviews the three key accountable roles, the sponsor, project leader and project team members and the relationships and boundaries between them.

The dark night of the pioneer

The path of change (and therefore a project) has been plotted and recorded literally for centuries. Despite this many sponsors and project leaders enthusiastically launch project after project each one destined for trauma and challenge. Plan for challenge - predict it! This section looks at the dark night of the pioneer. You can predict and plan for more than you think.

Releasing the iceberg of potential

Here the introduction to sponsor coaching begins and the analogy of the iceberg is no accident. The potential within a person often lies hidden below the surface with there being much more that at first meets the eye! The secret here for the Sponsor is to stop, look and listen. Actively searching below the surface of "task" can expose huge reserves of potential. Left to drift, this potential, like an iceberg simply melts away.

Real world coaching

Coming as a relief to many, we then explore the various forms of coaching. When under severe pressure coaching can sometimes not sound like coaching. If the right environment and permissions have been exchanged this need not damage the relationship and indeed in some cases may strengthen it.

Individual coaching styles

It is essential to know your natural individual style before engaging in active sponsor coaching. Only when you know your style can you choose to modify and adapt it to suit various situations. We invite you to look at your own style at this point and allow time for reflection on the effects of that style.

The pressure-performance stages

Now we have an understanding of our individual coaching style, it is time to look outwards again at the project leader. There is a predictable path that humans follow when under pressure and this has significant effects on our performance.

One key skill of the Sponsor is to be able to recognise where on the path the project leader is and what effect pressure is having. Helping to keep the project leader in optimum mode can be a skill well worth investing in.

Essential coaching skills

Coaching for most is not an innate skill it is at worst something to be avoided and at best something that is treated with fear and scepticism. We are ready to get to the core of it all and look closely at the coaching skills than can make or break you both as a coach and a sponsor. There is a way to do this, the wheel has been invented and the rotation begins here.

The project coaching framework

We understand the Project-Change Frame and the benefits of having a structured framework to apply to a project. Now we look at the coaching framework and fuse them together in a practical and understandable way. All the pieces now come together and Coaching through Active Sponsorship can begin in earnest.

Managing issues and having those crucial conversations

Being able to have the right conversations is central to the ability to engage others, promote openness and learning and tackle the tough issues.

So part two of this session provides the sponsor with tools and practice on how to have a crucial conversation with the project team leader - moving beyond the often superficial exchange of data to conversations that have meaning, impact and positive outcomes.

Summary and close

Participants are invited to reflect back on their day and highlight key learning points and experiences. Plans for application in the work place are drawn up and personal commitment made.


Participants run a feedback session on the quality and impact of the workshop, consultant and effectiveness of their own contribution to the workshop experience.