You might be a Champion! Then again, you might not.

You see, this isn’t some touchy-feely, “everyone is a winner” self-help piece. There will be no cheesy motivational images of mountain climbers experiencing “achievement” or hamsters showing “determination.”

This is a piece about teamwork. Like, when you get a bunch of people together to solve a real-world business challenge. It could be a one-time problem for a cross-functional group to handle or an ongoing effort from a dedicated department, but the key to success will still be teamwork.

The flaw of motivational images labeled “teamwork” is how badly they misrepresent actual teamwork in a business environment. They usually show a bunch of people (or animals) in a line repeating the same action. In reality, teams are most effective when a diverse array of people fill roles that best suit their individual strengths.

Regardless of whatever industry-specific knowledge and skills may be needed on a given team, there are four major roles team members can play: Champion, Creator, Facilitator, or Implementer. Your role is determined by a combination of your thinking style (divergent vs. convergent) and your work orientation (people or tasks).

Today, we’re looking at the role of the Champion. A Champion is a divergent thinker with a people orientation.

The Champion sets events in motion and makes sure people are enthused about the project and motivated to take action. When others fear change or are uncomfortable breaking from the status quo, the Champion is the agent who shakes things up. The person in this team role encourages brainstorming and welcomes new ideas and alternative approaches.

The Champion is not, however, the one who usually develops step-by-step systems or sees projects through all stages of completion. Just as a team lacking a Champion could struggle to get started, a team with too many Champions might have difficulty sustaining momentum. Teamwork requires balance.

A Champion stuck in the wrong team role can feel frustrated and might be ineffective. When we talk about “playing to your strengths,” it’s really another way of saying “acting on your natural motivations.” If you are motivated to persuade and influence and to get involved on the big-picture level, but your team role forces you into task-intensive duties that afford you no opportunity to operate strategically or impact the overall direction, you are unlikely to be happy or productive.

But even if you are a Champion in a Champion’s role, there are things you can do to enhance your contributions, particularly as it relates to the other players. One thing is to consider how other people are motivated. For instance, Implementers tend to like clarity and specificity, and if your goal is to get an Implementer on board with a new initiative, bouncing around from one idea to the next and shifting gears without warning is more likely to result in frustration and resentment than enthusiasm.

Another thing to remember is that it takes longer to do something than it does to talk about it. Just because you’re moving on to new ideas and challenges, it doesn’t mean your team members aren’t hard at work bringing the previous phase to fruition.

A third thing you can do to enhance your contributions is invite others into the conversation. Though not all stakeholders will share your level of creativity or appetite for innovation, they may bring important, practical considerations to light. Everyone wants to feel like a contributor, even if the individual contribution varies.

Speaking of practical considerations, how the heck does one end up plotted as a Champion on a 4-Box?

By completing a Caliper assessment!

Based on your unique blend of personality traits, you’ll land somewhere on the convergent/divergent scale in your thinking style and somewhere between task oriented and people oriented in your work approach. If the formula places you somewhere in the upper left quadrant, you’re a Champion.

The next step is finding a way to use that information for improving team effectiveness. The good news: Caliper has a tool for that.

It’s called the Team Roles Report. This report plots your entire team into quadrants on a Caliper 4-Box, enabling you to see the breakdown of Champions, Creators, Facilitators, and Implementers. It also shows your group’s distributions in thinking styles, people skills, and task focus as well as individual team members’ strengths and limitations in those areas.

This report can be a revelation for your team. Not only do you see what’s missing overall (too few people in one quadrant, for example, or too many in another), but you also discover which team members are in the wrong roles. Perhaps Lucy was viewed as an underperformer by the rest of the team when it turns out she wasn’t being given work that suited her strengths. She was stuck implementing, but she’s actually a Champion. Sometimes fixing problems with team performance can be as simple as realigning responsibilities.

There are four major reasons you’d want to know if you are a Champion or fit one of the other roles:

  • To make sure you’re in the team role that plays to your strengths
  • To maximize the strengths you bring to the team
  • To help you communicate and collaborate more effectively with fellow team members
  • To see, when your entire team is plotted on a 4-Box graph, where the gaps lie

Next time we’ll talk about the Creator quadrant. Meanwhile, if you’re ready to learn more about how the Caliper 4-Box can help improve the effectiveness of your team, department, or small company, give us a shout!