3 Types of Networks Every Leader Should Develop

business (9)Every organization has a “go-to person”, the leader who can successfully get things done, who knows everyone and is well liked.  The one some call a natural leader and while others say he’s/she’s “just lucky”.  However, chances are, luck has very little to do with it.

Organizations are social structures created and operated by people.  Leaders effectively navigate them by building and maintaining the relationships they need to be successful.  In the article “How Leaders Create and Use Networks” (Harvard Business Review, 2007) Herminia Ibarra and Mark Hunter identified the 3 types of networks successful leaders have or should develop.

Operational – This network is internal to the organization and is developed to get work done effectively.  The goal is to build strong functioning lateral relationships by identifying who can be counted on in other departments (HR, IT, accounting, etc).  It’s equally important to identify individuals who are depending on you and to be an essential part of their network.

Personal – This network is mostly external to your organization and is crucial to your personal and professional development.  Successful leaders have an eye on the future and become involved with outside activates, which provide opportunities to meet useful contacts.  The key to establishing this network is to be involved in the activity and not just show up.

Strategic – This is a leveraging network that separates the leaders from the managers.  It’s both internal and external to your organization and is oriented to the future.  Identify your future priorities and challenges, and then secure support for them with the people in this network.  Formal or informal mentors and coaches are usually a part of it.

The main factor in successfully building and maintaining all 3 networks is to give more than you take.   Leaders know that establishing relationships, doing a favor, showing interest in someone, giving a referral and communicating face to face is still how things get done.  Yes, it can be time consuming, but as Coleman Cox said, “I am a great believer in luck.  The harder I work the more of it I seem to have”.

Nicole Abbott – writer, educator and psycho-therapist