Whenever I facilitate a strategic planning session, I like to leave the team with the ability to execute on the plan. One of the key roles is the “champion” for the overall plan and one for each strategic initiative. This is the person – typically the person high enough in the food chain AND who was in the strategic planning session – who has the most to gain (or lose) when the initiative is completed.
They have a stake in the team’s performance and results, the ability to influence or the authority to make changes, the ability to delegate, the clout to remove barriers and the courage to trust the team.
They can be selected, elected, or appointed to oversee progress to plan and clear any roadblocks the organization encounters in achieving the goal. The champion doesn’t do it all, but they are the official program managers, nudgers, facilitators to make sure the strategic actions get done.
The champion acts as an advisor to the team, supports the team and removes roadblocks to achieving the goal. Ultimately, the champion’s primary role is to ensure the team’s success — not necessarily to “do” the team’s work.
The champion is NOT a full-time, active member of the team. There is a tendency for many champions to dig into the weeds, getting involved in the day-to-day tactics of the team. Agree upfront on your roles and how you will keep your champion apprised of the team’s progress.
As a champion, your team expects you to:
Show Support. Attend some (but not all) of the meetings. Know everyone’s name. Be positive and enthusiastic. Talk up the importance of the team’s activities and progress throughout the organization.
Kick It Off. Be present at the very first team meeting. Communicate your personal perspective on the importance of team success. Explain the reasons why the team is being chartered and what is at stake if the team does or does not succeed. Clarify your expectations and describe “success.” Express your commitment to follow through on the team’s decisions and recommendations.
Know Stuff. Learn about the team’s progress through staff meetings, e-mails, voicemails, and office chatter. Be the team’s eyes and ears. Alert the team if you hear anything good or bad.
Pave the Way politically and financially to ensure team success. Be an advocate for resources. Make sure the right connections are made for the team’s recommendations and decisions to be supported through implementation.
Intervene on behalf of the team. Sometimes, the team can’t speak for itself. Someone “up the food chain” must speak on its behalf. Speak with the same passion and commitment as the team.
Recognize Performance. At key milestones and when all is said and done, make sure the team and its members are recognized for a job well done.
When you identify a champion for the plan and for each initiative, you significantly increase the team’s ability to achieve their goals.
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.