For many years the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided the global direction and leadership that has helped to shape the way we view health promotion today. The future role of the WHO is now uncertain and the lack of global leadership for health promotion and identification of who will provide the future direction are issues that need to be addressed. The crucial question posed in this commentary is: Where are the individuals and organisations that will provide the global leadership and vision for health promotion in the future? We need named champions for the future leadership of health promotion practice - people and organisations who offer a leadership style that will maintain its global profile, be representative across sectors and have the ability to maintain its political efficacy. The two key health promotion approaches, top-down and bottom-up, do not always share the same goals, and they demand different styles of leadership. This is an important consideration in our goal to find champions who can work with both approaches and understand how to accommodate them as a part of the future direction of health promotion. This commentary raises key questions to stimulate discussion and action towards addressing the lack of global leadership in health promotion. It discusses some of the key players, leadership characteristics and the contradictions in style that are inherent in achieving a goal of charismatic global champions.