Rick’s Reflections | The Changing Role of Sponsors of Change

In an ideal world change is well defined, incremental, appropriately paced and packaged for consumption by the organization and aligned with the strategies and goals.

There are experienced, talented and expert resources available to support the change in every way.  Leaders who must sponsor change would also both be willing and able to assume the role and make the time to inspire, motivate and lead those who are impacted by the changeUnfortunately we don’t always have that perfect scenario and ideal Sponsors aren’t gods sent to us from Mount Olympus.

The fact is that Sponsorship is hard work and the job is more difficult than ever before.  Sponsors must lead an exponential volume of changes that are more complex while simultaneously dealing with more challenging and ever increasing people issues.  The skill and competency required to be a great Sponsor has evolved to include psychologist, economist, sociologist and therapist.  Not only must they have exceptional sponsorship skills, today’s Sponsors need deeper competency in managing, leading, motivating and inspiring people.

Sponsors need to:

  • Be accommodating without reducing expectations.
  • Be empathetic without justifying inappropriate behavior or emotional outbursts.
  • Be understanding without accepting excuses and mistakes.
  • Be tolerant without compromising quality, time or brand.
  • Be flexible without violating policies, procedures and rules.

In a world where employees are overwhelmed with personal challenges that get in the way of their ability to accept change easily, Sponsors are forced to not only do a better job implementing change management processes and using the tools but they also have to sharpen their people management skills.  They need to recognize that resistance to change is not just coming from skill and competency challenges in the workplace or their dislike of the change, it is because they are having difficulty coping with a world they perceive to be crumbling around them.  Sponsors need to help people help themselves without compromising the need for business results.  Our opportunity is to provide Sponsors with greater insight, more tools for helping others cope better in a complex world and constant recognition for their efforts in leading change.

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