Sponsorship

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Sponsorship boils down to sustained commitment. A coaching initiative,

or any development initiative for that matter, must have a

sponsor who is willing and able to see the initiative through to completion.

Together, the sponsor, who is often a senior business leader,

and the learning leader commit to successfully designing and

deploying coaching. This commitment is a two-way street. The

sponsor is committing to invest in coaching, and the learning leader

is committing to maximize the value of this investment. The business

case (previously discussed) formalizes these commitments and

provides a foundation for designing a coaching initiative with

impact.

Sponsorship from a business leader must be earned. The key for

a learning leader to earn sponsorship is for the learning leader to

demonstrate that he or she cares about the success of the business.

Learning leaders must be students of the business, learning what

they can about business strategy, competitive position, markets,

products, services, and solutions. Increasingly, learning leaders are

business savvy and are able to articulate how the learning solution

will benefit the business. The days of simply taking the order for “20

pounds of training” are over. Learning leaders must position coaching

as a strategic solution required for achieving business goals.

Whether it’s creating a need for change, identifying the “burning

platform,” or highlighting the performance gap, the needs assessment

data can be leveraged to increase the level of sponsorship for

the coaching initiative. The quality of sponsorship is only as good

as the knowledge of the sponsor about the underlying needs for the

initiative. As we saw from the PharmaQuest situation, the COO’s

continued sponsorship of the initiative was on thin ice, partly

because the needs analysis did not dig deeply enough or in the right

places.