What Does A Change Champion Look Like?

16 December 2013 / by Ashley Freeman

So you have a clear vision of the positive change you want to see in your organisation. The question is: How do I implement that change?

More often than not, its not enough that you know what change you want to see. Preaching it from the alter will probably fall on deaf ears too.

You need to get down amongst the congregation. You need to populate your team with champions of change, or “positive deviants” as the Harvard Business Review puts it. Members of the team who are already engaged, who are already doing things in a radically better way, who can spread the word, embed and sustain change within your organisation. Your good disciples. If you will.

What is a Change Champion?

Okay. Enough of the divine references! Let’s talk about what a change champion actually looks like.

Change Champions are carefully selected and trained to manage the inevitable uncertainty that is bound to arise within your team when faced with a program of change.

They are charged with reducing the pressure on management, identifying and dealing with issues quickly, gathering feedback on communications, identifying the main resistors and detractors amongst the team and carefully managing that resistance. These ‘moles,’ if you like, are members of the community of the team who are “just like us” and so can overcome resistance and disillusionment more easily than the higher ranks of management.

It is up to you whether you make your team aware of the change champions among them, or encourage them to covertly nurture change from an equal and anonymous position within the team. The danger of elevating change champions is that the team come to depend on them, to look to them as another avenue of leadership. To create a change champion that is truly effective, you must make sure that they stay ‘one of us.’

If you are committed as a leader to a big change effort within your organisation, an effective, engaged network of change champions can be the ones to carry that effort through to fruition. You cannot hope to truly effect positive change from a soapbox. To truly infect your team with the positive spirit of change, and your clear vision for that change, you need a network of ambassadors, covert agents, champions…of change.

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