Working with 12 leaders of a company over a period of 7 months validated the time I’ve been spending coaching and training on building a strong network.
Some of these 12 leaders knew each other having worked at the company for many years. Still, spending time together sharing their wins and their challenges built a stronger bond. They were learning that some of their peers were struggling with the same challenges they were, and that others had great skills and techniques in working with their direct reports that could be helpful for them. The wins and the struggles sometimes came from working with supervisors, peers or direct reports and centered around emotional intelligence, communication and collaboration. They also were able to learn to be ok with not having it all figured out, be vulnerable and ask for help.
Networking and building relationships is important because we all need to have people we can reach out to for insights, information, a different point of view, expertise and support. A strong network provides:
- Specific and truthful feedback:
Some of these leaders knew what they needed to work on but may not have had ideas on how to address it and or how to get support. From receiving candid feedback, one of them really understood that he needed to change the way he was reacting in meetings when he was being challenged. He asked one of his peers who attends his meetings to help him prepare before meetings as well as after the meetings. He was able to report after a few months that he’d made great progress in handling challenging conversations at meetings and being able to think through how he wanted to answer as well as listen a lot more.
- Understanding why and how strategic decisions get made:
To be in the know is important and if you only stay behind your desk, in your cubicle or your office and do only what you think your job is about, you might wake up at some point realizing that you’ve missed the boat. Get curious about your peers, what they are working on, what they know about what is coming up, how they could help you with something you are struggling with. There are plenty of committees, events and other opportunities to get to know some of the leaders that are thinking about the future. Get curious, ask questions, see what you can learn and find out and how it might help you understand better where your business is going and what the future may hold. Even better, you could possibly contribute and help a peer, a supervisor or decision makers move the business forward.
- Building influence:
One of the participants was doing really well. He realized at a certain point in the program that he needed to not only perform well and be a good manager but also make a contribution beyond his targeted goals. He did not like politics per se, but thought maybe he could help as a volunteer on a project. As a result, he is getting known in a totally different way and getting to partner with all kinds of people in the organization he would not have been exposed to otherwise. He also is getting recognized a lot more for his extra contribution.
Maybe this should have been titled “we are not alone and we need each other”. This group of peers can now depend on each other to continue to grow and know each other much better. What a great support and resource to have.
Now go out there and build your network as well as your relationships. You don’t know who you could help and who could help you in the future.
If you would like to work on building a strong network to get feedback, be more strategic as well as build influence you can reach out to Lyne.