In business, a champion is an agent that drives organizational change.
When you work for an organization you are the brand representative both internally and externally. A champion is driven by purpose and is consistently looking for ways to improve themselves and their organization.
That being said, in less flexible organizational cultures, there is a fear that one may overstep their bounds. Although navigating these waters can be tricky, there are several attributes common to high performing workers and champions that you can begin to put into practice.
Initiate New Ways of Thinking
Innovation is a product of taking risks. To become a champion for your organization, you should constantly ask yourself how you can improve the way a certain process is done or how recurring problems can be tackled.
Having the autonomy to try and fail is an important cultural element of fast-moving and innovative organizations. However, even in a rigid environment you can begin to test and implement new processes yourself.
Adopting new technology is always a challenge. As a champion, you may see that a certain process could be automated or wish to invest in new software. However your boss may be very strict with the purse strings when it comes to new investments. Other times, hierarchy can get in the way of change. In those instances, you need to spend energy climbing past various corporate roadblocks.
This is a tricky situation but there are ways around it. Business owners are far more willing to invest if they have tangible evidence of a product working – so as a champion it is important to do your due diligence before presenting a solution. By testing and gathering evidence, you can more effectively convince rigid corporate structures from changing their approach to problem solving.
As technology consultants, part of our role is working with employees and decision makers to clarify and present concrete evidence of our automation and process improvement solutions to ease doubts about moving forward.
It might even be the case that your boss declines to go ahead with a new technology update, even after presenting evidence. Despite that, the fact that you took the initiative will not be forgotten – and will be reflected in future opportunities.
Proactive Problem Solving & Communication
Champions do more than the bare minimum. They adopt an ownership mentality to solving different problems within the organization. An organization may do a poor job of fostering this mentality due to a negative culture. As a champion however, you should empower yourself to make an impact where you can.
To be aware of problems as they come about, you need open lines of communication within a company. When we consult with clients, slow and convoluted communication processes appear as one of the biggest roadblocks to growth. In fact it is estimated that 60% of managers do not measure internal communication processes. That’s why we conduct a process audit before building any sort of software platform – since executives often overlook deeper issues. As a champion you can begin to audit where the bottlenecks are and take positive steps towards fixing them.
When you begin solving these problems, seek help and encourage collaboration from others. This is vital because it builds trust within teammates and demonstrates your willingness to be inclusive.
Taking the initiative to solve a problem will inspire others to do the same. Over time, this will permeate into the company culture.
Champions Aim To Be Productive, Not Busy
There is a huge difference between being productive and being busy. Being productive starts out first by thinking. When you are working on tasks, ask yourself what will provide the most value in the long run.
The Pareto Principle is a helpful framework here: What 20% of tasks can I focus on that will yield 80% of results?
The top business leaders in the world (think Buffet, Musk or Bezos) are all extremely productive people. Productive people are action takers and concentrate on moving the ball forward.
Focusing on the most important tasks may also involve automating and delegating repetitive tasks. For instance, if you are in sales and are spending 25% of your time manually entering data on your CRM – you are not able to focus on actions that drive revenue towards your company. Automation of these low-value tasks will enable you to focus on the tasks that bring you 80% of your results.
Being busy but not accomplishing your goals is also often a symptom of overthinking and perfectionism.
Champions prioritize production instead of worrying about getting everything to be perfect. In the long run, this drives more results for the organization.
Stand Up For Your Principles and Company Values
Office politics are the death knell of company culture. Organizations that have strong levels of transparency and collaboration are more sustainable and financially well off.
Being a guide to your teammates, treating others with respect, and disengaging from negative office banter is one of the ways you can establish your credibility and foster an environment of trust.
It is not likely that things will always go your way, and in any organization, disagreements may arise. However, as a champion your are a representative of your company’s values.
There may be times when the company is not acting in accordance with its own values. In the case where there is a misalignment, it is important to respectfully but transparently bring it to attention.
As long as the company is in line with their values, it is easier to get on board with tough decisions – even if they are not the course of action that you would take.
A champion does what is right and often this openness and principled stance will benefit your image throughout the company.
If you liked this article, check out our post on The Key to Building a Great Internal Culture.