In the last edition, I shared with you the first of eight profiles of the Contribution Compass — the Catalyst. In this issue we fire up the Champion profile.
Champions are leaders to follow
Champions naturally shake up the status quo and stir up people to pay attention to the message they herald. Using their personal credibility, Champions shine light on the cause they rally for and incite others to join them.
They are vibrant and exciting, and the call they make to pay attention is hard to resist. They excel at taking a proven idea and broadcasting its value to a wide audience, garnering support.
Being bold and direct, Champions demand your undivided attention, yet are also able to read a group or crowd and understand just how far to push, and in which direction, to get the best result. Champions may, in their haste, take an unripe idea to market too quickly or become too concerned about what that market thinks, becoming immobilised as a result.
Champions who have learnt to maximise their natural energy, understand that their value rests in being able to shine their light on a focused and central idea that mobilises others to join the cause. They are able to be selective in their message and consistent with how that message is broadcast.
The Champion director
A Champion director brings passion, zeal and vision to a board and has the ability to challenge the promise of the organisation and lift the level of the board’s thinking about its cause and value proposition to the market.
Champion directors who have matured their approach have learnt how to clarify, deepen and stick to the idea being championed while not running ahead so fast that the rest of the team is left behind.
They also develop an approach or set of criteria in support of what they choose to shed light on. The Champion’s fiery enthusiasm can rally a board that has perhaps lost sight of where it should be headed or the bigger vision possible. Their understanding of public perception means that Champions inherently understand the value of branding and marketing and have an innate ability to know how to increase market attraction and brand appeal.
However, a Champion director who struggles to maximise their natural energy may become overly obsessed with surface appearances and reputation, and, without a clear message, may push the business to sell to anyone who would listen.
The relentless drive to get the message ‘out there’ may frustrate a chief executive who is concerned that the message is still unclear or the timing premature. We have witnessed this drive for expansion through executives being pushed to rapidly broaden the business scope far beyond its core idea to ‘capture the market’. This results in no particular area getting enough attention.
Maintaining a clear focus and vision is critical for a Champion director to mobilise the board and blaze a trail. Refining their ability to deliver a succinct and impactful message, be that through public speaking, writing or media expertise, is also very important. They should continuously check that their idea is sufficiently mature and that a clear plan is in place.
Related: Leadership Lessons From Corné Krige
Inspiring vision with the Champion contribution
The Champion contribution, whether on your board or in your team, is about tapping into a powerful cause and going for it. If you feel that your board needs to focus on rallying the company around a clear promise and accelerating market attraction through branding, marketing and sales, then you may indeed need a Champion director on your board. However, if your board has too much of this natural energy and keeps on changing course, perhaps you need to consider how other profiles may ground your board and bring sustainable growth. Keep reading the rest of the profiles in this series to learn more.