We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The fourth change leader type is the Champion, who leads with a combined strength in Head and Heart.

Change leaders who are Champions excel at rallying people around a change goal. They value engaging with a wide variety of people and inspiring them toward exciting new possibilities. People see Champions as compelling, charismatic, and enlightening.

Some people refer to Champions as “participative visionaries” because of their emphasis on long-term goals combined with their ability to get others involved in developing and implementing those goals. If you are a Champion, you demonstrate considerable skill in rallying people in support of the new and the different. However, you may at times not give sufficient attention to the immediate task or the short-term objectives of a change project. Since you are more apt to promote the positive aspects of the change, you may not invite and pay sufficient attention to constructive criticism about the goals and the process.

Champions are verbally adept and persuasive, but some may see you as insincere or manipulative. Others may wonder whether your natural effusiveness is a cover for other intentions, and whether you are excited about the greater good or are really out for yourself. You must therefore be sensitive to how you come across so as not to appear calculating and insufficiently grounded; people may otherwise see you as disconnected from the reality of the current situation and out of sync with the specific tactics necessary to reaching a goal. Tempering enthusiasm and grand visions with detailed plans and objectives will enable you to influence those who are technically oriented or more focused on the business process.

As a Champion, your leadership style excels because you usually:

  • Take a lead role in change by combining your intuitive grasp of possibilities with your dynamic interpersonal style
  • Are adept at verbally communicating the vision, explaining how the change will affect individuals, teams, and the organization
  • Exude enthusiasm and optimism, even in the face of challenges and setbacks
  • Are confident in your ability to overcome resistance and motivate people toward a goal
  • Are socially skilled and relate easily to a wide variety of people

While your strengths shape an effective leader, they can also lend themselves to a few weaknesses. Champions can sometimes:

  • Undervalue the tactical activities necessary to accomplish a goal
  • Fail to address the requirements of others who have a greater need to know details and specifics
  • Downplay the importance of problems and risks in pursuit of a goal, being overly optimistic about the capacity of yourself and others
  • Come across as calculating, more interested in achieving your own goals rather than those of the organization or other individuals
  • Become overcommitted in too many new initiatives at once, and can get derailed from finishing one objective before becoming enamored with the next new thing

These bad habits mean that, with your Champion-style of leading, you are sometimes perceived as glib and manipulative rather than charismatic and enlightening. When you have a full understanding of these facets of your leadership style, you can go about maximizing the good and minimizing the weak spots.

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