A great leader is one that bring out the best in others, believe in who they are and what they can achieve. A great leader treat others like champions.
What I mean with finding your champion is finding someone around you where your leadership can bring out the champion within them. This is either your manager, one of your peers or one of your direct reports. Anyone where you interact relatively often so that you can see how they are doing and how you can help them. Do remember that finding your champion is not about getting that next promotion or favouring someone particular. This is about bringing out the best in those around you.
Know your champion
Start by taking time to get to know this person. Be curious and ask them what they do and how they do things. It can also be a good idea to get together for a lunch or a coffee sometimes. This usually create several opportunities to catch up and get to know more about who they are.
You never want to miss an opportunity to encourage your champion. Let him / her know that you see the good things that he/she does. Encouragement is usually best received when you are being specific. This does not have to be so dramatic but can be something simple like: “I saw how you solved the issue that came up during the morning meeting. I think that was very good”, or “Do you know that the boss is very happy with the forecast report that you did? He might not have said anything to you but I think you should know”.
Offer practical support
“How can I help you?” is a powerful question. Not only does it communicate that you care for someone but also that you are willing to take from your time to support them practically. Sometimes when the pressure to perform is particularly fierce it is helpful to know that you are looking out for them. What you want to communicate is that you have their back and that you are there for them.
Give constructive feedback
Constructive feedback is given in order to build up and with the intention to make the other person better at what they do. It can not stress enough that this is also what the other person must feel so how you deliver your message is important. What I find useful is to connect a behaviour with a consequence and if there is something they should change also suggest a way to do it differently, such as “When you start talking straight away, no-one else get the chance to express their opinion. It would really help me if you could just wait a minute sometimes so that I can hear the opinions of the others as well”.
In summary, finding a champion is about finding the champion that exists in all of us and show that you are on their support team. Everybody need to have a personal cheerleader and someone need you as their cheerleader. And once you have found one champion, why not find another or maybe even more?