Your Primary Accountability – To The Project Sponsor?

Posted on September 1, 2011

Whether you call them key stakeholders, primary stakeholders or some other term, it is likely that every leader labels at least one person as ‘the person to please’ when delivering an initiative. By default, we call him the sponsor. As the sponsor is footing the bill and (theoretically) is the primary beneficiary of outcome delivery, this is reasonable. But should the leader always behave as if the sponsor is the primary stakeholder? Depending on the initiative and the mindset of the sponsor, that might not be the optimal way to achieve outcomes.

A frequent circumstance of today’s business climate is that skills are critically short, and the skilled business experts and technical team members have a tremendous number of demands placed upon them. Your initiative is just one more on the stack. Treating these vital resources in the best possible manner can be crucial to successful objective delivery. Sometimes, these vital resources should be treated as your primary stakeholder(s).

This is not a suggestion that you ignore the sponsor; he should always be front of mind. However, when the sponsor is content and fulfilling their role appropriately, it may be time to consider other primary stakeholders for your everyday attention.

Are you treating the right person(s) as the primary stakeholder, or are you treating the sponsor as the primary stakeholder by default? Could you improve your initiative by shifting your attention to different ‘primary stakeholders?’

Intelligent Disobedience Leadership provides workshops, coaching and consulting with a focus on courageous leadership through intelligent disobedience. We can help you and your teams design a community of practice which leverages constructive “intelligent disobedience.” For further information, email us at