Networked Leadership – Module 1

Networked Leadership – Module One: Why?

Why Networked Leadership?

We’re here to help you deliberately grow your network as a leader. And having a compelling reason to cultivate your network is the place to start.

There are (at least) three good reasons why you should be deliberate about cultivating an effective network:

  1. To create fresh thinking
  2. To be able to influence others
  3. To generate new opportunities

Let’s break each of those down a bit more:

1. Create Fresh Thinking. To paraphrase Einstein, the challenges we face today as leaders can’t be solved with the thinking that created them. In other words, what got you here won’t necessarily get you there. We increasingly need fresh perspectives on the dilemmas we face to help us come up with innovative approaches that might just make the difference we’re looking for. Different ideas lead to us to new approaches which lead to better solutions. What better way to get new ideas than to be able to tap into people from different walks of life? By cultivating a network of a diverse range of people with their own unique perspectives on the world, you’ll have access to a treasure trove of ideas. Additionally, you’ll be in a stronger position to share your own perspectives with them, making their jobs that much easier as a result.

2. Influence Others. Once upon a time, leaders were able to lean heavily on the fact that they held a certain title, and with that title came power and influence. No more. To get work done, we’re now asked to work across traditional organisational boundaries, both inside our company and further afield. While boxes and lines are still how many people draw how their organisation is ‘organised’, the reality is that the real work gets done through a network of relationships. Being able to see, tap into, and create connections in that network is a skill that you need to foster if you are to have the influence you want to have. Building relationships founded on mutual trust and a shared purpose is the key.

3. Generate Opportunities. If you have direct reports, your role is to help them be successful. This includes generating opportunities to help them perform well, as well as to progress their career. You’re going to need to be able to be a connector for them: both to help them access fresh perspectives, to foster the relationships with the people they need to know to get the job done, and to help open new doors to career opportunities. Having a well-formed network can help you be a great connector for you people. And, of course, a great network also helps you generate new opportunities in your own career.

The most effective leaders have a network perspective, and are deliberate about building the connections that matter. It’s how they influence, and how they create opportunities.

Research from the Centre for Creative Leadership suggests that leaders who can foster strong networks, and tap into them effectively:

  • Hear more new information before others
  • Merge dissimilar ideas
  • Perform better
  • Are promoted more rapidly
  • Adapt to change more effectively

CCL research also found that approximately 5% of the people in an organisation hold 30% of the relationships, and even fewer hold the ties that bridge organisational roles and functions. So if you want to influence and get stuff done, it’s worthwhile either becoming one of the 5%, or knowing someone who is.

Your Task:

What would you like to achieve that can only be achieved by having an effective network?

It might be a career goal, like securing a new role in a totally different industry, or a work-related goal or project – perhaps something that cuts across traditional boundaries. Or it might be both of these types of things.

Take some time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities you face, and the big goals you’d like to achieve. Use the template below to help you. Getting clear on why you need an effective network will give you the focus and drive to do the work of building it.

Template: Why Building My Network Matters

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