The ability to influence and inspire through internal or external virtual networks is becoming one of the most crucial leadership skills in today’s global business arena. If you can’t beat it, join it.
According to a recent Global Economic Forum report, one of the most crucial managerial skills in today’s world of work is Network Leadership – the ability to create, harness, and leverage broad internal and external networks for better business results. No wonder: our personal and professional branding and impact have always depended on our ability to make connections and leverage them into opportunities, and since the digital revolution, we’ve been practically living in social media to make our voices heard and appreciated.
Consequently, workplace communications have also transformed into broad tech-based networks. Professor Rob Cross, a leading expert in Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) and author of Beyond Communication Overload claims that 80% of organizational communications are conducted by virtual network solutions such as Outlook, Zoom, Slack, Monday, and Teams.
But knowing how to operate these tools is far from what it takes to master them, as the challenging shift to virtual communications has surfaced the need for a new networking language and skillset to replace controlled face-to-face business meetings. The rules have changed: business leadership no longer depends on who you are and what you know, but rather on who you know, what they know, and how they can help you complete your missions at any given time
Collaborative impact over controlled power-management
While traditional managers are still struggling to figure this out, network leaders feel at home on virtual platforms. This isn’t surprising: as advocates of leadership based on autonomy, empowerment, trust, transparency, curiosity, and cooperation, they will always choose collaborative impact over controlled power management. This executive choice is what makes them not only stand out as natural network leaders but also assume the important mission of helping others become network leaders, by adopting five courses of action:
1. Sharing resources: providing available knowledge, information, and support to all network shareholders.
2. Marginal sensitivity: identifying groups that do not have access to the shared resources and ensuring that they become available to them
3. Collaboration: working together to create innovative solutions and promote worthy causes.
4. Learning communities: creating insightful community spaces and opportunities to learn and promote new skills and ideas.
5. Branching out: helping in building, managing, and expanding external networks.
Network Leadership #101:
In face of how virtual networks have been taking our lives and workplaces by storm alongside the 3-dimensional reality, the world has become too complicated to handle alone. Business leaders have no choice but to join this hybrid reality, learn the new rules of the game and play it seriously while creating virtual partnerships. The following principles will help you take the first step:
1. Connect: Increase your network quickly and easily by joining relevant internal and external networks and connecting with colleagues from both your workplace and other organizations, friends, suppliers, thought leadership groups and influencers.
2. Be responsive: Helping, sharing knowledge, or even voicing authentic appreciation for others in your networks will help you get into the game quickly, become a relevant player and even have fun in the process.
3. Stay tuned and optimize: Engage on your designated platforms and make them part of your daily routines. Optimize your networks to create value for you and your group by keeping your eyes and ears wide open for new opportunities and reaching out proactively when they present themselves.
4. Inspire others: Share inspiring stories and announcements about your organization with your network. This will strengthen your employer’s brand and pave the way for more collaborations and opportunities
Nili Goldfein – EVP Marketing & Business Development at NGG Global Consulting Solutions, an expert in Leadership and Management in a World of Disruption
Sharon Rendlich – Co-Founder and CEO, StepAhead