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Sponsor-specific support request

Some sponsors, if they have been persistently involved or have a particular interest, will be more engaged. (Sometimes too engaged…) This may correlate to project visibility and how big a part of that executive’s scorecard. Others can be quite detached. They kick things off and say, “Call me if you need me.” Then they’re on to any one of many other emergencies.

Many project leaders are “get things done” types who don’t like to ask for help. They may even toxically buy into the adage of not going to leaders with problems but only with solutions.+ So they are loathed to go to their executive to ask for help. If this is you: STOP IT!! When the problem is one you could not possibly be expected to resolve at your level, with your authority and your resources, don’t be scared to go with a problem… even without a solution.

The approach to asking for specific help is straightforward.

  1. Relate the situation (problem) and what its effect may be.
  2. Describe the actions you’ve taken and the results.
  3. Express why the problem is beyond your ability to resolve which may already be self-evident.
  4. Specifically state what action and result you need from the sponsor, and when.
  5. Leave open the option to change course, expectations, etc. at the sponsor’s choosing.


+  However it’s phrased, this is not a bad philosophy. Not at all. Where you have a problem and the solution is within your purview, solve it. In such a case, you are getting an approval at best by going to the executive. What makes it toxic is that getting-it-done types tend to do this even when the problem is beyond them. In these situations, it is not only right but ought to be expected that the problem get raised solutionless with a request for help. Senior executives (should) expect these situations. And, truth be told, it’s really good for their egos.


We are <<duration>> from launch day and have uncovered that the <<impacted stakeholder team, etc.>> is not just wholly unprepared, but actively refusing to make necessary changes. At best, it's not a priority to them.

Over the past <<week, e.g.>> we have doubled down on our direct communications and engagement, and solicited the support of and feedback from the mid-to-senior level management and junior executives of <<applicable team>>. They have all said the right things but there has been no change in behaviour. Also, meetings are being scheduled out by weeks. This will very soon—much sooner than 3-weeks—be a critical path issue either derailing the project or ensuring failure against objective (adoption) commitments.

We have tried persuading from below—at our level. At this point, I believe the solution is for you to make the case and secure the immediate direction by your colleague, <<impacted team's most senior executive>> , to his/her direct reports and so on down the line. How best to do this, I'm sure you know. But if gathering allies is needed, I'll be glad to assist in any way I can.

There is about a week to see real movement or we will have to call out the risks and mitigations and impacts formally.

Please advise.


Project manager


Project sponsor