Informal networks have become as powerful as traditional hierarchies and, in some cases, more powerful. This article challenges you to leverage these informal networks in new, and purposeful, ways.
Modern leadership is a characteristic of groups that function more like a peer-to-peer network than a command-and-control hierarchy. No matter how your enterprise is integrated, though, the implications of a more networked marketplace are profound.
We all know that Leadership is about influence, and influence creates movement. Leadership is expected of individuals, teams and organisational but most methods for developing leadership capability – training courses, MBAs, etc – are designed for the old economy paradigm.
The new, networked paradigm sees influence coming from collaborations, as distinct from organisations, and require different approaches to developing leadership capability.
This month’s insight considers the impacts of networking leaders on:
- the traditional views and mindsets about leaders and leadership;
- organisational structures;
- mentoring approaches;
- training and workplace performance expectations; and
- business outcomes.
A traditional ‘vertical’ company, let’s call it Company A, is considering acquiring Company X from its supply chain. Company X is pivotal to a real growth opportunity for Company A but Company X has other priorities.
An acquisition could be the answer but the numbers simply aren’t adding up. So how does Company A unlock the potential of its supply chain member without over-investing in time and capital?
… the ‘how’ dilemma
Of course Company A could simply talk with Company X’s people and hope for a good result – it might just work. Sadly though, it’s the Managing Director who calls the shots in Company X and he is neither a risk-taker nor a visionary.
The Ops Manager from Company X has a great relationship with Company A, probably better than with his own MD, and sees the potential benefits of the opportunity. Unfortunately, he hasn’t the leadership skills or confidence to influence his MD to pursue the collaboration.
Company A would definitely benefit from the Ops Manager having a stronger influence. The dilemma is how to unlock the value of this potential collaborator and develop the skill, latitude and personal leadership capability to influence his MD?
A peer leadership program! We worked with our client who hand-picked individuals from within their Supply Chain to participate in a purpose-led leadership development program. The program was partially subsidised by our client making it an attractive invitation for their supply chain members.
For eight months the group met, monthly, for 3-hour sessions to collaborate on real business issues such as quality, sales, and process improvement. While they worked on those issues, our skilled coaches developed in them the sophisticated skills, emotional competence, dynamics and mindsets needed for true horizontal, networked collaborations.
Multiple (key) people were brought together to resolve real issues and create real opportunities. These people:
- had different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives;
- brought different ideas about ways to solve problems and create opportunities;
- shared a foundation of trust and a commitment to reach collaborative decisions and actions; and
- benefited from professional facilitation, coaching and a specific framework that focussed their effort.
Company A’s capability was expanded at no or very little overhead cost.
- With their resultant and now sophisticated personal leadership and collaborating skills, the group solved 3 previously “intractable” issues by implementing a process improvement initiative that, over the coming 36 months, will conservatively increase profit by 35%.
- The peer group also designed and implemented the original growth opportunity. This is anticipated to yield a significant increase in profits to each supply/value chain member.
- The peer group is keen to work together again as they now have the capability to:
- They communicated more freely and purposefully;
- They mentored each other;
- They share connections and opportunities; and
- They were excited about ongoing collaboration that will continue to add wallet share for each of their companies.
Relevance to you
Collectively, any group can bring an astonishing diversity of experience. In the new economy will your business unlock the collective wisdom and influence that builds on creative ideas and critically thinks through new ways of seeing and solving business issues?
By using a specific framework to process issues among collaborating peers, our proven model is an outstanding way to process problems while building those collaborative leadership skills.
Truth be known, this peer leadership development model works within vertical silos and among communities of portfolio interest, entrepreneurs and communities. If you want to unlock the latent capability of your networks to generate ideas and growth opportunities from within your employees, supply and value chain members, wider network colleagues and clients, you might want to make contact for a coffee chat – your shout!