Where Executive Sponsorship Fails

Where Executive Sponsorship Fails

From a simple two hour team building seminar to an enterprise wide LEAN transformation, one cannot underestimate both the power and peril of effective Executive Sponsorship.  Sadly, too often Executive Sponsorship begins and ends with a signature on a purchase order and an email endorsement.

The following elements represent both the power and peril of Executive Sponsorship:

1. Failure to ever get beyond the Storming Stage. 

Team dynamics and change management is real. The early writings around the stages of Team Development – Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing – are as relevant today as when conceptualized. 

Too often Executive Sponsorship lives only in the Forming Stage. 

The activities of program kick-off, executive roadshows, project charters, timeline development, all live in the Forming Stage. This is the fun stage – it is futuristic, hopeful, optimistic, and exciting. Sadly, when teams get to the Storming stage, many Executive Sponsors disappear. They begin listening too much to how people “Feel” and forget all about the fundamentals of change management and the necessity for minimum and consistent processes. They begin to second guess the initiative and too often, their silence is deafening. 

It doesn’t take long for the optimism of change to degenerate to the despair of personalities.

This is often the leading factor in Engagement Surveys revealing feelings of too many initiatives, too little capacity, and non-existent follow through and commitment.

2. “You and your team are not unique, special, different, or privileged.”

Successful organizations recognize sustainable improvements come from both Consistent and Collaborative Processes – too often leaders buy into the false narrative that parts of their organization are different and special. In essence, those teams or individuals are allowed to operate “outside” the defined structure and processes set for the rest of the organization. If I had a dollar for every client who ever said,

“We are different…Our People are different…Our Function is different…” – No. You. Are. Not.

Your role is to move the business forward consistently and collectively by following these processes. Period.

3. The Visible and Authentic engagement of Leaders not just “Kicking Off” a new initiative in a training seminar, but rather the articulation of what is going to be different and how they will monitor, affirm, course correct, and validate the desired state in both weekly and monthly touchpoints. 

From simple GEMBA walks, to the un-announced attendance in weekly huddles, to monthly roundtable or lunch and learn events – any and all of these items are required to have a visible and authentic demonstration of Executive Sponsorship

4. Straight Talk – Too often leaders fail “in the moment” to provide real and direct straight talk to questions, concerns, and ideas. 

The failure to speak in “real-time” to the organization often leads to “vanilla responses” that the organization interprets as either disconnected or unrealistic further compromising their personal ownership and buy-in.

Bottom Line –

Executive Sponsorship requires: Staying the course through the demonstration of visible and authentic leadership, providing “in the moment” straight talk to include the message that “you and your team are not unique” and lastly, holding the course through the Storming stage. Failure to do any of these items perpetuates the narrative of too many initiatives with no capacity, the latest program of the month, inconsistent engagement due to favored status, and lastly, the fundamental credibility of the leadership team.

If you are interested in seeing Executive Sponsorship done well, join Shane Yount and the CSI team at our upcoming Benchmarking Immersion experience that will allow you to tour a facility who has successfully executed these strategies. 

Click DEPLOYMENT CASESTUDY for additional information.